Zoe wants to end her life. But she can’t just leave a note. She needs to say goodbye to boyfriend James and best friend Alison.
Tori is waiting in the wings to fill the space Zoe will leave behind, wanting to claim both James and Alison for herself.
But with Zoe still alive and Alison’s childhood friend Ruby now on the scene vying to fill the gap, Tori realises she has her work cut out.
Just what lengths is Tori willing to go to in order to claim Alison and James for herself?
(Trigger warnings: Suicide, depression, IRA bombings, ADHD, Autism, manipulative characters.)
The Victoria Lie opens in disturbing fashion. A young woman, Zoe, boards a London tube train one day and spends hours travelling back and forth on the Victoria Line; only gradually over this opening section are her motivations - her carefully-laid plans - revealed. This scene stirred up powerful feelings for me, perhaps especially in Zoe’s apparent certainty, calculation and lack of doubt about her chosen path. Let’s just say this is a case where I think the “trigger warning” is entirely justified.
It’s a very unusual and original premise and I don’t think I’ve ever read anything quite like it before. Is there any way back for Zoe?
Like Sarah Marie Graye’s first novel, however, the focus is also on the people around Zoe... literally, in this case, gathered around her hospital bed. In the previous book, The Second Cup, a character who has committed suicide is the catalyst but the story is mainly about the ones left behind and the effects on them. Here, Zoe is still alive, but although she is a central character there is equal focus on her friend Alison, boyfriend James (well, maybe not him so much) and other characters Ruby - Alison’s childhood friend - and Tori, Alison’s work colleague.
I did get confused sometimes about the interactions between these characters, and some of the subtleties about cups of coffee and who said what to who were, at times, lost on me. I had to keep reminding myself who was who and how they knew each other, though this did settle down as the story progressed.
I do have to say that I did feel a bit uncomfortable with what seemed at one point like constant references to Ruby’s skin colour - it seemed like her “difference” was always being pointed out, both by herself and others, and this didn’t feel entirely natural to me. Again though this did settle down as the characters became more established/
It was nice to see characters from the previous book (Faye and Beth) popping up. And I liked the (fourth wall breaking?) bit at the end where someone, presumably the author, interviews the characters - an original way of rounding things off.
Sarah Marie Graye has clearly thought deeply about her characters, their feelings and motivations and the story is carefully and insightfully crafted with a keen eye for detail, both practical and emotional. It’s a challenging but often rewarding read about - among other things - friendship, lies, neurodiversity and mental health.
British writer Sarah Marie Graye is the author of The Butterfly Effect series, which looks at suicides and those left behind. The Second Cup, the first book in the series, was published in July 2017, and this Blog Tour is to celebrate the launch of the second book in the series, The Victoria Lie.
Social media links...
Win 3 x signed copies of The Victoria Lie by Sarah Marie Graye (Open to UK only)
Terms and conditions - UK entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter link. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified via Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.