The flowers in the bathroom, the song on the CD player, the aftershave in the cabinet— When Caroline and Francis put their home up on a house swap website, the idea was to escape their past, not be reminded of it at every turn. Everything about the home Caroline and Francis are vacationing in has a sinister history, and it doesn’t seem like a coincidence. More importantly, though… Who is staying in their house?
I picked up this book hoping for a seasonally-appropriate thriller with a good twist and some psychological drama. Instead, I got a thriller filled to the brim with marital hardship, with a small splash of suspense on the side. At times like this, it’s important to remember that sometimes you read a book and you don’t dislike it because the writing is poorly done, or the plot doesn’t make sense, or something else of that nature. You dislike it purely because you hate all the themes. That’s what I’m experiencing with The House Swap. I found a vast majority of the book to be deeply depressing. The failing marriage, communication issues, struggles with addiction, and the unfaithfulness are not something I seek out in books, and in fact would probably avoid if given the choice.
However, the writing was well-done and the plot did have aspects of a thriller, with a twist involved. The twist was fairly obvious from about halfway through the novel, even if we didn’t have all the details, so if you’re hoping for a stumper, this is not it.
At this point, I am about to reveal some SPOILERS. If you’d like to read this book, do not read more!
The aspect of this book I disliked the most is actually the main character, Caroline. Throughout the book, you are sympathetic towards her, since we are reading mostly from her perspective. We are privy to her rationale for her affair, we see her home life, we hear how the past two years of her life affected her now. But, when we find out that Caroline is responsible for the car accident that ended someone’s life, we never get a change in narration. There is no acknowledgment that Caroline did something awful and walked away, free. There is no wink from the narration that she isn’t the put-upon wife and mother she’s been portrayed as throughout. For some reason, this really bothered me. At the end of the day, this character nearly broke up her own family via her affair, then broke up someone else’s family by driving under the influence, and then broke up her lover’s life by letting him take the blame. She is pretty reprehensible to me, and we never see that in the book.
Overall? Not my cup of tea at all.
Thank you for sending this free review copy, Pamela Dorman Books!
PUBLICATION DETAILS: 304 pp.; Pamela Dorman Books; 05/22/18; 978-0525558835. Thriller