Friday, February 16, 2024

Book Review: Verity

By Becky Gulc

Somehow the popularity of Colleen Hoover had passed me by until my sister pretty much insisted I had to take an “amazing” book of hers on holiday. So I popped It Ends With Us in my suitcase and ended up reading it at lightning speed. The hotel had one of those holiday bookshelves and by luck It Starts With Us was left, the follow up novel, so I read that straight after, at an equally fast pace. Both are amazing books that stay with you. However I’m digressing as my review is for neither of these novels right now but for the third book I’ve read of Colleen’s, which is Verity, and a different genre to the others as it’s a psychological thriller. So what is it about?

‘Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime. Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish.

Lowen arrives at the Crawford home, ready to sort through years of Verity’s notes and outlines, hoping to find enough material to get her started. What Lowen doesn’t expect to uncover in the chaotic office is an unfinished autobiography Verity never intended for anyone to read. Page after page of bone-chilling admissions, including Verity’s recollection of what really happened the day her daughter died.

Lowen decides to keep the manuscript hidden from Jeremy, knowing its contents would devastate the already grieving father. But as Lowen’s feelings for Jeremy begin to intensify, she recognizes all the ways she could benefit if he were to read his wife’s words. After all, no matter how devoted Jeremy is to his injured wife, a truth this horrifying would make it impossible for him to continue to love her.’  (Synopsis courtesy of Colleen Hoover's website.)

Wow. This book had me hooked from the beginning, even before things get creepy when Lowen arrives at the Crawford home! It’s a dramatic and dark start to the novel when a road traffic accident brings Lowen and Jeremy into each other's lives and not long before their lives are increasingly intertwined as Lowen takes up the lucrative offer of completing the series of novels his bestselling author wife Verity is medically unable to complete. Everything almost seems quite clear at first, it’s a mutually beneficial arrangement and Lowen will visit their house briefly to go through Verity’s notes before leaving.

It doesn’t quite transcend like that. There is an instant connection between Lowen and Jeremy and whilst it’s unclear whether they are bonding over the losses they’ve both experienced or bonding on a romantic level, it remains to be seen as the novel progresses. What exactly happened to Verity and her twin daughters (who have both died) slowly unravels, but what is the truth? There are also question marks throughout about Verity’s current state, particularly from Lowen’s perspective – she senses things; she sees things that question everything she’s been told by Jeremy.

The manuscript Lowen uncovers slowly reveals what life was like for Verity, it’s distressing to read the emotions and actions at times but gosh did it send you in a spiral about what was real, what wasn’t and how to feel about the characters! As Lowen gets more and more immersed in the manuscript the book gets creepier, I feared Verity, I feared Jeremy, I didn’t always warm to Lowen,  and I really couldn’t sense how it would all play out. I obviously won’t give any spoilers away but suffice to say, the ending was chilling and I never would have pre-empted it; it will stay with me. A wonderful atmospheric thriller!

See Melissa's (short) review here.

More by Colleen Hoover:
Regretting You
Ugly Love
November 9

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