Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Exit – Helen FitzGerald

Psychological Suspense 4*'s
Psychological Suspense

Catherine, a lover of social media, unemployed and drifting is finally driven to get a job as a way of avoiding another unpleasant evening meeting with her Mum where she would be presented with her failure following items for discussion, and quite possibly, a list!

The first of Catherine’s lists appeared when she was aged five:

  1. Make three new friends at school and ask them if they’d like to come over to play some time
  2. Write a story for me.
  3. Put your dirty clothes in the washing basket in the utility room (This, Catherine, is something I would like you to do from now on)
  4. Make your own breakfast – cereal and milk. (This is also something I’d like you to do from now on.)
  5. Do at least three kind things for others.

and they continued every Sunday until she left school.

The job Catherine managed to bag was at Dear Green nursing home where the most appealing of the residents is 82-year-old Rose. Rose has dementia and appears to be thrown back to an event that occurred when she was 10 and an evacuee with her sister at a farm. Rose is also a famous author and illustrator with a series of books to her name which features a brave little girl called Tilly, books the young Catherine had loved.

The early scenes of the book are very engaging, while Catherine is young and thoughtless she has some good qualities and the obvious mystery is what Rose is re-enacting when she is gripped by the memory from childhood, but also she is desperate to bring attention to the home, Room 7 is locked and Rose alludes to danger but is unable to articulate in words what she is so frightened of.

As more characters are introduced and then layered with individual characteristics, I was charmed by the captivating dialogue between Catherine and some of the residents, and slowly she appears to alter her opinion on her previously frivolous life and become more measured in her approach to her work, but this soon runs in tandem to something altogether darker and more disturbing.

I loved The Cry , despite the fact that it made me feel very uncomfortable, and had half-expected another scenario where all the characters had varying degrees of unpleasantness, but Helen FitzGerald is clearly not a one-trick pony. I can’t tell you any more about the plot without spoiling the story for others, but I am able to confirm that the characterisation is excellent with my opinion on some, particularly Catherine’s mother, swayed by the revelations that the author timed perfectly. Along with this the author has an expert touch cleverly building the tension while still keeping the overall feel of the story intact and the plot, well that was hole free!

In a way this story inevitably reminded me of Elizabeth is Missing , but in contrast to that book Rose retained control with less emphasis on the limitations of her illness as a whole, instead focussing in the long ago event that had such an impact on her life.  However like Elizabeth she had a mystery in the past and one in the present and only at the point of revelation does it all become clear.

Another winner from this talented author and I want to say a big thank you to the publishers Faber and Faber for allowing me to read this book prior to the publication date of 5 February 2015


A book lover who clearly has issues as obsessed with crime despite leading a respectable life

23 thoughts on “The Exit – Helen FitzGerald

  1. Cleo – I was wondering if this was as good as The Cry, which I thought was really excellent. It certainly sounds like a compelling sort of a read, and I’m most definitely intrigued. Must put this one on my list.


    1. I was most impressed with the different ‘feel’ of this one and it is compelling but I’m scared to say too much more for fear of spoiling the experience for those who haven’t read it. I think you will like it Margot.


  2. First of all, thanks for reminding me that I want to read ELIZABETH IS MISSING. And I realized that I already had it on my Kindle. Too many books!

    Your review of THE EXIT was wonderful. And, seriously, this is a list to give a 5-year-old? Sorry, found that distracting. I love books that have a secrets of the past element.


  3. Sounds great! I’m not adding it yet, because I still haven’t got around to The Cry, which has been on my Kindle for months, but great to know she has other tricks up her sleeve. One to keep an eye on, it sounds like.


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