Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The People at Number 9 – Felicity Everett

Contemporary Fiction
4*s

The People at Number 9 is a razor-sharp, entertaining story looking at adult friendships, in this case with the neighbours. Sara is overjoyed when she spots a couple with children of a similar age to her own moving into the house next door. At first on a practical level, the house has been a bit neglected and could do with sprucing up but later, when she is chatting with Carol from down the road, she gets a closer look at her arty new neighbour, Lou, and sees something in her that she feels is missing from her life.

This is not, as the title and cover might suggest a domestic thriller, rather it takes a close look at how other people change the way we see ourselves, and in turn perhaps how others see us. Sara is impressed and overawed when she finds out Lou is a film producer and her husband, the handsome Gav, is an artist and instead of joining her old friend and neighbour Carol in sneering at the new neighbour’s bohemian lifestyle, she embraces the lack of convention, or would, if she could just lose some of those middle-class values.

The early chapters narrated by Sara show us how Lou weaves her spell on Sara in particular as she invites confidence, listens with interest and reveals nuggets about the life they have left behind in rural Spain. It is only on reflection that Sara realises that she knows very little about the pair and really she’s too dazzled to really look.

For a long while Sara has longed to do more with her talents than work as a copy writer at an advertising agency and as she becomes more friendly with Lou, her neighbour’s praise encourages her to write a book instead. Meanwhile her steady husband Neil who has worked hard to climb the heady heights of the local housing association is pulled along in Sara’s wake and soon all the couple’s social life is spent with the neighbours, previous friends simply not feeling bright and sparkly enough against this pair.

With Gav and Lou’s children attending the same school the children are also forced together for longer than they would naturally choose to be, especially as Lou is often busy doing very important arty things with very important people, whose names she litters her conversations with so that the less well-connected Sara is unsure whether she should have heard of them. The upshot is that Sara is only too pleased to be able to be the safe pair of hands who entertain the children for Lou, especially as she becomes more and more intrigued by Gav. And so the seeds are set, ready to transform the lives of Sara and Neil into something that couldn’t have been predicted before they made friends with the neighbours!

Having read some early reviews I was prepared for a different kind of read and Felicity Everett really did deliver on a tale of a modern middle-class life and I had the feeling all the way through that there were going to be tears before bedtime, but whose and how dramatic I could only sit back and wait to find out.

I was lucky enough to receive a review copy of The People at Number 9 from the publishers HQ and this unbiased review is my thanks to them and the author for a thoroughly entertaining read.

First Published UK: 6 April 2017
Publisher: HQ
No of Pages: 320
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Author:

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

21 thoughts on “The People at Number 9 – Felicity Everett

  1. I was all set for a domestic thriller when I read this, so felt a bit thrown. However, the more I thought about it, the more I really liked it and thought it was very well written.

    1. I can understand that and I think having read some reviews you weren’t the only one and it’s hard to get your head around that expectation. I loved the writing especially Sara’s gradual realisation that she’d got in over her head.

  2. I’m glad you enjoyed this one, Cleo, even if it wasn’t quite what you had expected. It sounds like a really interesting look at modern life and the way we interact. Not what I thought it might have been, but still sounds good.

    1. I had an inkling from the reviews that this wasn’t what I’d originally expected but that doesn’t take away from the fact that this is a great observational book where we see what happens when a friendship is toxic.

  3. I’ve been eyeing this one. I was immediately captivated by the sound of those characters and how Lou cast others under her spell. I knew a neighbor like that, years ago! She had the kind of influence you want to flee from when you realize that someone has had so much control over how you see yourself and others…and that you allowed it. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Ooh I don’t envy you that neighbour and fleeing sounds an excellent option. This book is cleverly written to reveal what could happen if you let someone else pull the strings on your life….

    1. It is one of the odder relationships we have because as you say there is no other common ground (such as work, children, hobbies) I found the author worked the pace of the unveiling of Sara’s realisation on quite how deep she’d got really well.

  4. This books intrigues me. I understand that feeling of being impressed with someone new and how their lives seem better but digging a little deeper and finding maybe they aren’t quite what they seem. I think it’s something people could see in themselves.

  5. Excellent review! I agree the title is a big misleading, but it sounds like a great read anyway. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

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