From the opening pages to the spellbinding conclusion, this book is utterly absorbing!
Camilla Way in Watching Edie, her third novel to date, has sensitively captured the inner voice of the two main characters, Edie and Heather in such a way that we as the reader can really come to ‘know them’ with our sympathies being manipulated between the two women as the tale is told.
As each woman relates the same story from their own experiential point of view, both protagonists still hold something back. There is a sinister secret which must be voiced, yet the economical way in which the author metes out the clues only leads to a build-up of tension which only ends when the truth is finally told and atonement is made. There is a prevailing sense of foreboding throughout the novel which carries it along as utterly compelling reading.
Edie and Heather meet at high school. Edie is pretty and popular, whilst Heather is clever, unpopular and plain. Somehow the two girls hit it off and become close friends, in spite of the closeted upbringing of Heather’s strict parents who disapprove of Edie and her single parent mother. Even as the girl’s relationship blooms, there are undercurrents of tension. Edie becomes infatuated with a housing estate boy called Connor whom Heather can see is having a bad influence on Edie.
It is here that the novel becomes darker as Heather takes on the role of ‘watching Edie’. As her self-appointed guardian Heather tries to protect Edie from Connor and his influence. Her preoccupation with ‘watching Edie’ becomes an all-absorbing obsession. As Edie falls completely under Connor’s spell, the friendship between the two young women abruptly ends and we do not find out why until the end of the book.
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Sixteen years later Edie is living in London, alone and pregnant, she is still coming to terms with her past, although we do not really know what the event is that has caused her to flee her hometown. Heather suddenly reappears, and although initially resistant because of their shared past, Edie soon allows Heather to help her look after her new tiny baby girl Maya.
The relationship between the two women is difficult, especially as Edie climbs back out of the pit of Post Natal Depression and wants to resume her independence. Heather has assumed a manipulative control that leaves Edie isolated and unable to communicate with the outside world until she breaks out of her depression and forces Heather to leave her apartment for good.
As Edie starts to get her life on track with a routine for Maya and herself, she is aware of a sense of someone watching her, silent calls on her mobile phone, her apartment door left open. Is she being stalked? She receives information that Heather is mentally unbalanced and was involved in the death of her own baby sister, and she senses that she is still ‘watching Edie’. Edie reaches out to a troubled neighbour Monica who encourages her to get on with her life and start dating James, an artist whom Edie meets.
The book suddenly gallops to a conclusion which is both shocking and unexpected. The past event which separated the two young women is painfully revealed and consequences must happen because of this. Blame must be accepted and some sort of atonement or restoration of relationship must occur.
This book is a slightly uncomfortable yet compelling read. I wanted to know what ‘really happened’ to end the friendship of the two school girls. There are hints aplenty, red herrings, but when the truth is revealed, it is heartrendingly sad. The reader can then fully understand the inner dialogue and the tension of the two young women as they seek resolution and forgiveness.
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Camilla Way has written an excellent book in Watching Edie. The book is described as ‘the most unsettling psychological thriller you will read this year’. This could possibly be true. I thoroughly enjoyed reading and reviewing Watching Edie – the first community review for Dymocks in August.
Watching Edie, by Camilla Way is available from Dymocks.
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