I seem to be reading books with family names at the moment. First, Dyrk Ashton’s Paternus. Then, Louise Jensen’s The Sister. Most recently, I’ve read The Stepmother, by Claire Seeber. And I’m pleased to report that it was just as great as the other two.
The book is set in present day England, and primarily follows the life of main character Jeanie. Occasionally, we also get chapters from the point of view of Marlena, her sister.
At the start of the book, we find Jeanie moving in with her new husband Matt, looking for a new start. Both she and Matt have been married previously, and both have teenage children. Jeanie worries about being a stepmother, and getting on with Matt’s twin children. She also wants to make sure that her own boy can feel welcome in the new situation.
However, Jeanie’s got a very troubled past, and skeletons in her closet come back to haunt her. But she’s not the only one. She and Matt got married after a whirlwind romance, and they soon come to realise just how little they know about each other.
I found Seeber’s writing style very easy to read, and the plot flowed along nicely. The book describes itself as a psychological thriller, and it fits well within that category. I saw a couple of things coming, but most of the revelations in the final part of the book were a surprise. All of the characters were well written, and I found the story believable for the most part.
Jeanie’s past is heart wrenching, and the reader sees how she has made the best of a myriad of bad situations. Her wish to do the best for everyone is juxtaposed with the way so many people take advantage of her kind nature. Her relationship with her sister Marlena is also a fascinating side story. Both of them have endured an awful childhood, but they have reacted to it in very different ways, which are revealed as the book progresses.
There are links to present day news, which are a nice touch. Mentions of recent world events help bring the reader into the story, and help it to feel contemporary and real.
In closing, I thought this was a gripping story, which kept my interest throughout. It left me with plenty to think about, and I will be checking out more of Claire Seeber’s work soon.