‘She’ by HC Warner

SHE’s everything he dreamed of, isn’t SHE?

Ben can’t believe his luck when Bella walks into his life, just when he needs her most. Sexy, impulsive and intelligent, Bella is everything he ever wanted. And Bella wants him. All to herself.

In fact, Bella decides that everything is better when it is just the two of them, making it harder for Ben’s friends and family to stay in touch. And then a sudden tragedy triggers a chain of events which throws Ben headlong into a nightmare.

Secrets, lies, vengeance and betrayal are at the heart of this utterly twisted story about a family that is destroyed when SHE becomes part of it…

Ben has just split up with long-term girlfriend Charlie when he meets beautiful Bella. Very quickly, Bella is pregnant, and marriage swiftly follows. Ben should be happy, but everyone around him can see that something isn’t quite right. After Elodie is born and Ben becomes a stay-at-home dad, they stage an intervention, with tragic consequences.

Reviewing this novel is a bit tricky. The writing is undoubtedly accomplished, the twist is very good (it comes about half way through), and I did want to know what happened to Ben. But I immediately felt irritated by Ben’s family – superficial, privileged, ridiculously well off, especially unambitious mum Jo, who was so sappy. But of course she is very well-preserved for a middle-aged woman, slim, well-groomed, beautiful, as is everyone in this novel. And Ben’s beautiful (but not perfectly beautiful) midwife friend lives in a converted period flat in central London (really?).

Bella is so one-dimensional, a scorned woman out for revenge. There is no attempt to explain her background, or why she is how she is. She could have been so interesting and complex – a real missed opportunity.

And of course, Bella, as the woman, takes the blame for the circumstances that got everyone to this point, while the man involved is forgiven.

The other big issue for me was that when we heard the story from Bella’s point of view, whole conversations were repeated from the earlier part of the novel, which really slowed the narrative.

Disappointing, and, given the theme, insensitive too.

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