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Strictly Between Us is a tale of loyalty, betrayal, love, lust, good intentions and double-dealing. Tamsin is the star of the show, and the supporting cast are her long-time best friend, the best friend’s husband, and Tamsin’s personal assistant.
Fallon doesn’t waste any time setting up the action. Halfway down the first page we see … well, I can’t say what without spoiling a major plot point. It’s a fairly full-on way to start a book, and shows two of the main characters in a less than flattering light. Which is probably the point.
The pace remains fast throughout the 400+ pages, and zips back in time a little way to explain the first page scene, and the repercussions that reverberate throughout the rest of the story. The story is primarily told from Tamsin’s point of view in first person, which took me a little while to get used to. As the story progresses we also hear from Tamsin’s personal assistant Bea from time to time, also in first person, which presents another interpretation of events.
Fallon has been described by The Guardian as writing “Chick Lit with an edge”, which is about as apt a description as any. The writing style of Strictly Between Us and the worlds that the characters inhabit suggest a readership that is well informed, well-travelled, and connected to all that is currently fashionable. It is very ‘here and now’, with descriptions of hipsters, retro pub interior design and coffee preferences peppering the story. For me, Fallon’s edge is her pacing; the story moves along at a cracking pace, and I found myself spending more time reading than I intended to, to see what Tamsin was going to do next.
I don’t know if it’s because the blurb on the back cover gives away a huge clue or I’ve got better at reading between the lines after a summer spent in the company of authors Robert Galbraith and Gillian Flynn (both of whom keep the reader guessing for much longer), but I saw the major plot twist coming a mile off. This shouldn’t put potential readers off, as there’s a lot of the story dealing with the resolution of the crisis. The characters are reasonably complex; with the exception of Michelle who felt more like a sketch, the main protagonists are three dimensional and flawed. And while the story wraps up in a conventional sort of way, there is a last little plot twist that adds a bit of relish, and a touch of real life, to the story.
Reviewed by Rachel Moore
Strictly Between Us
by Jane Fallon
Published by Penguin Books