“I realised for the first time how much of this whole dementia experience would be dictated by my one reactions and behaviour. I had to pull myself together and stop imagining that strangers were creeping round the house, for a start. It just wasn’t helpful. As long as I carried on as normal, then things would remain normal. Wouldn’t they?”
Author: Louise Voss Published: 2018 Pages: 315
I have read a couple of books about dementia or Alzheimer’s before, including Still Alice and Elizabeth is Missing, but when I read the synopsis for The Old You, I was intrigued to see how the illness would be portrayed in a psychological thriller. The protagonist, Lynn, has just found out her husband, Ed, has been diagnosed with Pick’s disease, a form of dementia, which his father had too. Lynn thinks this makes sense – Ed hasn’t been acting like himself for a while now but they are both still devastated by the news. As they both try to continue with their lives as normally as possible, Lynn is under pressure to go to work while still making sure Ed’s okay. But when she thinks she hears someone downstairs in the middle of the night, it begins a series of suspicious events: is Lynn just being paranoid, or is there something more sinister going on?
Voss’ novel was a good thriller; it was tense in all the right places and held suspense where it needed to. She had some really great one liners, sometimes ending chapters, which made me desperate to turn the page and read on. Lynn was a bit of an annoying character, and I didn’t have much sympathy for her to be honest. I’m not sure whether that was the angle Voss was going for, or whether we were supposed to see her as this pitiful creature who has just had so much bad luck in her life. Either way, I mostly just found her irritating and self-centred.
I think a good thriller is all about the plot. There has to be a decent amount of unpredictable twists and turns to keep me wanting to read on, and I think The Old You definitely succeeded in this: Voss is a talented writer. I was sometimes a little lost with some characters, as the author would sometimes name drop someone very insignificant and it would take me a while to work out who they were, but this was a minor point really. I also liked the way Voss jumped into the past every now and then to give context to the situation, she did this clearly and fluidly and, as simple as it may sound, the past and present passages were printed in a different font which really helped keep track of where you were, or rather when.
All in all, the characters were mostly good, the plot had a nice arc and climax, and the ending was satisfying and clean. I would like to read more of what Voss can write and hopefully she will find success with this novel as it was a nail-biting and chilling thriller which definitely ticked all the right boxes for me.
Thank you to Orenda Books for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.