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Review: The Strangers We Know by Pip Drysdale

on January 27, 2020

The Strangers We Know
Pip Drysdale
Simon & Schuster AUS
2019, 336p
Uncorrected proof copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

Imagine seeing your loving husband on a dating app. Now imagine that’s the best thing to happen to you all week …

When Charlie sees a man who is the spitting image of her husband Oliver on a dating app, her heart stops. Her first desperate instinct is to tell herself she must be mistaken – after all, she only caught a glimpse from a distance as her friends were laughingly swiping through the men on offer. But no matter how much she tries to push her fears aside, she can’t because she took that photo. On their honeymoon. She just can’t let it go.

Suddenly other signs of betrayal begin to add up and so Charlie does the only thing she can think of to defend her position – she signs up to the app to catch Oliver in the act.

But Charlie soon discovers that infidelity is the least of her problems. Nothing is as it seems and nobody is who she thinks they are …

The Strangers We Know tackles the question – what would you do if you thought your husband was cheating on you? Charlie is in the pub with some friends, one of whom is swiping through a dating app. Not paying much attention, Charlie thinks she sees her husband’s photo, but you can’t go back. When she questions Oliver, he seems genuinely puzzled that she would think such a thing. Resolving to let it go, it’s only when a few other things send a red flag that Charlie decides to do some investigating. She creates a fake profile and signs up for the app herself, determined to see if she can catch her husband in the act. He can hardly deny it if Charlie turns out to be one of he women he’s cheating with, can he?

But that’s just the beginning, for Charlie. Finding Oliver’s profile might be the best thing that happens, in the span of a few days as everything spirals out of control and suddenly Charlie finds herself possibly framed for a heinous crime and on the run from the police. What is going on? Who is responsible for the crime that someone seems happy to let Charlie take the blame for? Why did they do it? Is anyone what they seemed? Or is Charlie thinking that her husband cheating on her is just the tip of the iceberg in how much she didn’t know him?

This was a really quick and engaging read, something I knocked over in a couple of hours in the afternoon. Charlie is an actress and the book is set up like a TV series – instead of chapters it’s divided up into a series of episodes. Charlie is in her early 30s, she met Oliver at a bar after a devastating break up from her previous boyfriend. They’ve now been married eighteen months and for a while, Charlie thought everything was perfect. She’d like it if Oliver travelled less for work, but until that night in the pub with her friends she didn’t realise that anything could be wrong. Now she has cause to question her whole life but before she can even get a handle on the probability of being single again, the unthinkable happens. And Charlie realises that whether or not Oliver was cheating on her is a bit irrelevant now, there’s a lot more at play here and if she’s not careful, it’s going to be more than just her heart affected.

I really enjoyed the way this was set up, the ‘episodes’ made for a good way to break the story up into manageable chunks and although Charlie is a bit neurotic, she’s a likeable narrator. We only see the story through her eyes, so Oliver is only presented how she sees him – firstly, with adoring eyes, because he’s her good looking, loyal, wonderful husband. Then, after she discovers his profile, she starts seeing his abrupt work trips and secretive phone calls and messages as sinister, and that maybe everything Oliver has presented himself as is a lie. Charlie has very few people she can turn to, she’s basically on the run from the police who definitely want to speak to her, but she’s also potentially in danger herself. The first half of this is quite sedate but the second half reads as quite a frantic pace and it worked really well. There are a few interesting twists and turns, some of which I didn’t guess.

I really could identify with Charlie’s need to know – she is pretty sure she saw his photo, and she’s so certain because she took the photo. His denial isn’t enough for her – not after having glimpsed that photo. If I was in her position, I think I’d be exactly the same. I’d want to know for sure, I’d want concrete proof and be armed with all the relevant information that I’d need in order to extricate myself from the marriage. So I actually quite admired the lengths Charlie went to in order to get that information. And if the whole acting thing doesn’t work out, it honestly seems like she’d make a pretty good private investigator.

This was well constructed and kept me highly entertained as all the pieces came together. A fun read.


Book #11 of 2020

The Strangers We Know is book #4 for The Australian Women Writers Challenge 2020


One response to “Review: The Strangers We Know by Pip Drysdale

  1. […] were also posted by ReadRoundOz and Bree @ 1girl2manybooks. I am still left hoping to get to this one sometime […]

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