It’s interesting, beginning a book, already disliking the main character. We know from the start that Anna Witherall has left or is leaving her kids - and without being too judgy, my first thought was how can a mother do that? What kind of woman walks out on her children? At the beginning, it seems obvious - she’s bad, she’s messed up, she had one job and she’s failed at it. But as the story opens up, we learn more about her motives and as we begin to get to know her, we can see that she’s operating in a loving capacity on just about every level.
From the outset, this book has suspense and intrigue embedded in every page. Of course, first and foremost it’s a thriller, but it’s more than that - it’s also a love story. Anna loves, therefore she’s vulnerable, therefore she can be corrupted, which ultimately leads to her failing at love.
I’m in awe of how cleverly Charlotte Philby has put this story together, in such a concise and astute way. Anna starts off as a clear cut character, with everyone around her in shadows, but at the end it's everyone else who is clear cut and Anna, courageous, loving, failing Anna, who is in shadows.
One of the hardest things to maintain in a novel, especially a thriller, is the pace and momentum throughout the story - knowing when to let it drop off a little, when to ramp it up and when to set the readers nerves to screech level.
In writing this book, Charlotte has achieved that in all the right places - there was an ebb and flow which was seductive, but she’s never lazy with her writing - there aren’t the cheap thrills that it would have been so easy to put in to ramp it up. Every sentence has it’s worth.
I love that I loved this book, because me and Charlotte chat on the gram and she kindly got her publisher to send me a copy and I was nervous - because what if it was rubbish? What if it wasn’t rubbish, but I didn’t like it?
I really needn't have worried. This is a remarkable read and with the news that Charlotte has been given the go ahead for two more novels, it’s clear that the thriller genre has got a serious new contender.
The Most Difficult Thing is published by Borough Press, available as an ebook now and hardback 11th July
Written by Hannah de Lasti