In a Cottage In a Wood, by Cass Green

3 Stars

 

I gave this book 3 Stars and, upon further reflection, I’ve decided I was overly generous.

I admit that I have a weakness for flawed, unreliable narrators, but I was hoping for one as indomitable as Rachel Watson in The Girl on the Train. Unfortunately, 30-year-old Neve Carey comes across as a mindless, drunken loudmouth who inflicts misery on everyone she encounters, especially her overwhelmed sister.

The primary problem is that the author never establishes a reason for the reader to sympathize with Neve. She simply presents her as an alcoholic who can’t maintain a job, a relationship, or a place to live better than a hovel. Neve has absolutely no sense of personal agency, which makes her appear malleable and weak. There isn’t any hint of psychological trauma until the last chapters and it is relayed through the device of a diary that has already been burned. How can one read a diary that doesn’t exist? Also, the main premise—that a suicidal woman would bequeath a cottage to the last person she meets before jumping off London’s Waterloo Bridge–is barely believable, while the rest of the plot is even more poorly imagined. The reader is expected to feel terror over trampled graveside flowers, an axe that has been moved, and a radio that has been switched on. I just didn’t.

The book is very poorly edited, and some sentences made no sense due to missing words. A lot of the imagery was overly dramatic and repetitive; Neve became dizzy, nauseous, and felt like she was punched in the gut way too often for my liking.

I have never read Cass Green’s children’s books, but I recommend she stick to fiction for young people. Fans of A.J. Finn’s The Woman in the Window and Paula Hawkins’s The Girl on the Train might enjoy this book, but it’s far more likely that they will put the book down feeling terribly disappointed.

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