Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs at http://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/
Terry has been reading Blind Side by Jennie Ensore
BLIND SIDE by Jennie Ensor
4 out of 5 stars
Reviewed by me as a member of Rosie Amber’s Review Team
This is the debut novel from Jennie Ensor, and it’s one of which she should be proud. Set in mid-noughties London, it’s a fairly standard spurned-lover-as-stalker plot, but with a lot more to it. Middle class marketing exec Georgie only ever wanted to be friends with Julian, but when she starts a relationship with Russian immigrant Nikolai, she discovers that she never really knew Julian at all. Alongside this storyline is the dark shadow of terrorism relating to the London bombings of the time – and Georgie’s growing fears that Nikolai might be involved.
I admit to being slightly underwhelmed by the beginning; both dialogue and narrative are rather bland, with opportunities for more ‘colour’ missed, and, when Georgie succumbs to sex with Julian after a drunken evening, I never got the impression that she was drunk; I actually forgot she was meant to be. Happily, the pace and intrigue stepped up very quickly, and I began to really enjoy it. I thought Julian was revolting from the outset, and I didn’t begin to warm to Georgie until later on; Nikolai, on the other hand, was lovely. The characterisation was very good all the way through. I cared what happened to the two main characters, which is all important.
The novel is extremely well structured, planned and edited. I particularly liked that the backstory about both Georgie and Nikolai appeared in dribs and drabs, all the way through, which kept my interest. There aren’t many surprises, but certainly enough suspense to call this book a thriller, albeit quite a low-key one. But it’s a love story, more than anything, I think. It’s intelligently written, with much background about the war in Chechnya and Nikolai’s experiences, which were shockingly fascinating and made the book so much more than just a stalker story.
I was glad that Georgie was not portrayed as a victim, though I found it unrealistic that she didn’t guess, immediately, that Julian was behind threats to Nikolai, too (this isn’t a spoiler, it’s fairly obvious!). The only other bit that niggled me was minor – Georgie displays a shock-horror attitude when her lover suggests they go camping together, and is, apparently, ignorant of all such practices. Yet she’s supposed to be a keen, fairly long distance hiker…
The ending was pleasing, though the odd surprise or revelation wouldn’t have gone amiss; the last few chapters were little more than a wrapping up. I’d say that Ms Ensor is a talented writer, for sure, and I enjoyed this book. I felt that it could have done with a little bit more spark, but it’s very well written, and a fine debut.
Can you ever truly know someone? And what if you suspect the unthinkable?
London, five months before 7/7. Georgie, a young woman wary of relationships after previous heartbreak, gives in and agrees to sleep with close friend Julian. She’s shocked when Julian reveals he’s loved her for a long time.
But Georgie can’t resist her attraction to Nikolai, a Russian former soldier she meets in a pub. While Julian struggles to deal with her rejection, Georgie realises how deeply war-time incidents in Chechnya have affected Nikolai. She begins to suspect that the Russian is hiding something terrible from her.
Then London is attacked…
Blind Side explores love and friendship, guilt and betrayal, secrets and obsession. An explosive, debate-provoking thriller that confronts urgent issues of our times and contemplates some of our deepest fears.
About the author
Jennie Ensor is a Londoner descended from a long line of Irish folk. She has worked as a freelance journalist, covering topics from forced marriages to the fate of Aboriginal Australians living on land contaminated by British nuclear testing.
Ms E lives in London with her husband and their cuddle-loving, sofa-hogging terrier. When not chasing the dog or dreaming of setting off on an unfeasibly long journey with a Kindleful of books, she writes novels, short stories and poetry (published under another name). Her second novel, to be finished in 2017 with any luck, is a dark and unsettling psychological drama.