What You Did by Claire McGowan

Kindle Edition, 282 pages
Published August 1st 2019 by Thomas & Mercer and Amazon Publishing UK
About the Book:
A vicious assault. A devastating accusation. Who should she trust, her husband or her best friend? It was supposed to be the perfect reunion: six university friends together again after twenty years. Host Ali finally has the life she always wanted, a career she can be proud of and a wonderful family with her college boyfriend, now husband. But that night her best friend makes an accusation so shocking that nothing will ever be the same again. When Karen staggers in from the garden, bleeding and traumatised, she claims that she has been assaulted—by Ali’s husband, Mike. Ali must make a split-second decision: who should she believe? Her horrified husband, or her best friend? With Mike offering a very different version of events, Ali knows one of them is lying—but which? And why? When the ensuing chaos forces her to re-examine the golden era the group shared at university, Ali realises there are darker memories too. Memories that have lain dormant for decades. Memories someone would kill to protect.

I really enjoyed What You Did. The book gave a fairly accurate representation of the horrors and difficulties of dealing with the aftermath of rape, both for the individual survivor, the accused and the family as well. The novel gives a voice to the voiceless. It also makes it easier to understand how and why these perverts can manipulate entire families and societies into believing they're good people. These life lessons are so relevant.

There wasn't anything that I really disliked about the book. However there was a lot that disgusted me, which given the general book topic was bound to happen. This is a gripping psychological thriller, as each character deals with their current issues while flashbacks of their past are revealed through the chapters. Karen’s story is heart-breaking, her struggle to take control of her life, her fears and isolation, expertly portrayed. The descriptions of the surroundings are depicted in a way parallel to the moods of the characters, and the author has done a brilliant job of handling a very difficult subject, delicately, without using explicit scenes. I felt for Karen as well as for Ali and read breathlessly though the pages of this dark psychological drama.

I imagine this novel will do extremely well in this ever-popular genre of dark domestic drama; it deserves to. It is structured well, and the writing really flows. I enjoyed the first three quarters, in particular, and looked forward to opening my tablet each time I was able to get back to it. Now and again, though, I did find the writing a little 'safe'. Also, I wasn't convinced by some of the developments in the last quarter; it all seemed too neatly tied up. Other than that, though, it is a most compelling novel, and I'd most definitely recommend it to those who love well-written stories of family turmoil. Overall, a really worthwhile read to further understand the topic but done in a fictionalized manner.

Thank you NetGalley, Claire McGowan, Amazon Publishing UK and Thomas & Mercer for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an impartial review; all opinions are my own.

#WhatYouDid #NetGalley


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