“None of us can really forgive ourselves for being human.”
This line, in a book of almost five hundred pages, stuck with me through the story. I Invited Her In is a novel by Adele Parks about jealousy, intrigue and revenge. It is laced with the milk of kindness and the taste of guilt. I looked at the thickness of this book and hoped it would be interesting enough to keep me turning the pages – and it turned out to be a story that kept me hooked, page after page after page.
Mel and Abi had been friends at uni. Mel, smarter than Abi had her life planned. Abi, sultry, beautiful and irresistible to men, was what Mel wanted to be. They complimented each other and their days were spent studying, with nights at endless parties and get-togethers typical of every uni student. Abi meets and falls in love with Rob, part-time student and part-time lecturer. Rob is handsome, older and much in demand but once Abi set her sights on him, she plays her cards close to her heart and entices him out of the clutches of other adoring women and into her life.
Mel, although not the social butterfly that Abi is, has no trouble finding attractive men to amuse her and soon discovers she is pregnant after a one night stand. Her life changes completely after informing the father of her unborn child and, realising he is a selfish, arrogant man who has no intention of “doing the right thing”, Mel leaves university, cutting ties with Abi and her friends, to devote her life to the unborn child she is carrying.
Years later Mel, who is now married with three children, receives a message from Abi on Facebook. Mel becomes excited after inviting newly separated Abi to visit them to help her come to terms with the break up of her marriage to Rob, her uni sweetheart. Abi and Rob had become celebrities in their own right and led exciting lives in America. Mel, although happy with her life in England with her husband Ben and their children, wanted to feel the excitement and unpredictability of earlier uni days. She delighted in having Abi in her home, but Ben was not too sure.
All was not as it seems with Abi and her failed marriage and soon it is apparent that there is an underlying reason Mel was chosen as the one friend Abi turned to, even though they had not contacted one another in many years. Life as Mel and Ben knew it was turned upside down and Ben became irritated that Abi had outstayed her welcome and swallowed up his rather normal home life, leaving him arguing with Mel that her friend needed to leave.
Adele Parks takes a believable mundane tale of university friends and adds twists and turns right to the end. Was Mel so in awe of Abi, as she had been in college days that she could not see the way Abi’s conniving mind worked? Did Abi think so little of their friendship, even after Mel opened up her home and heart to her, that she would gladly cause a rift between Mel and Ben and arguments between Mel and her beloved teenage son, Liam?
Why did Mel always feel so inadequate around Abi? What did Abi have that drew everyone in her path to want to walk that path with her. Was Mel willing to undo years of a happy marriage for Abi and her whims? What was it going to take to stop the trail of destruction Abi seemed hell-bent on leaving behind her?
All in all, I Invited Her In was a great read, believable and entertaining, reminding me that “None of us can forgive ourselves for being human”.
I Invited Her In, by Adele Parks, is available in printed and digital editions from the publisher HQ Fiction.