Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Review: Beside Myself by Ann Morgan

Beside Myself by Ann Morgan
Publisher: Bloomsbury Circus 
Release date: 14 January 2016
Rating: *****
Back cover blurb: Helen and Ellie are identical twins – like two peas in a pod, everyone says. The girls know this isn't true, though: Helen is the leader and Ellie the follower. Until they decide to swap places: just for fun, and just for one day. But Ellie refuses to swap back... And so begins a nightmare from which Helen cannot wake up. Her toys, her clothes, her friends, her glowing record at school, the favour of her mother and the future she had dreamed of are all gone to a sister who blossoms in the approval that used to belong to Helen. And as the years pass, she loses not only her memory of that day but also herself – until eventually only 'Smudge' is left. Twenty-five years later, Smudge receives a call from out of the blue. It threatens to pull her back into her sister's dangerous orbit, but if this is her only chance to face the past, how can she resist? Beside Myself is a compulsive and darkly brilliant psychological drama about family and identity – what makes us who we are and how very fragile it can be.

Beside Myself by Ann Morgan is a gripping novel, unlike any psychological thriller I have read before (and I've read my fair share!)

Helen and Eleanor (Ellie) Sallis are identical twins. Ellie has always lived in Helen's shadow. Helen has always been the "good" twin whilst Ellie is prone to accidents, general clumsiness and some slight behavioural issues. 

Helen is clearly the leader and at the beginning of the novel she even bullies Ellie slightly into doing what she wants. It is her idea for the girls to "swap" identities in a childish game just for a time to see if anyone can tell the difference. 

When the girls arrive home that afternoon they find their Mother distracted and seemingly unable to tell that they are not who they say they are. Helen isn't bothered, she knows that her Mother will see the difference, Ellie will somehow trip herself up and reveal the truth.

Only she doesn't, and then she refuses to swap back.

As the girls grow up Ellie (Helen) is treated appallingly by her family, whilst Helen (Ellie) is treated like a perfect little princess. One day, a tragic accident finally tears the sisters apart and Ellie is forced to live a tragic existence whilst her sister flourishes.

The storyline is split between present day and the twins growing up. I found it a difficult read at first, not only did I not know who to believe, or who to trust but at times it really makes for some uncomfortable reading. 

The characters in this novel are unbelievably flawed and treat each other horribly, but it only makes the story more interesting in my opinion.

Beside Myself is sure to be one of 2016's books to watch and I can't wait to read the next from this author.

Beside Myself is available from 14 January 2016.
You can pre-order it now from Bloomsbury or Amazon online.

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Thank you to TBC on Facebook and Bloomsbury who provided me with an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

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