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What You Did Audio CD – Audiobook, 1 August 2019
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'What You Did is a triumph, a gripping story of the secrets and lies that can underpin even the closest friendships.' Author: Cassandra Clare
- Publisher : Bolinda/Brilliance audio; Simultaneous Release edition (1 August 2019)
- Language : English
- ISBN-10 : 1978690045
- ISBN-13 : 978-1978690042
- Dimensions : 14.6 x 2.8 x 13.4 cm
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from Australia
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This book is easy to read. Steering mostly away from the graphic horror of the event and the victims pain. Most of the story is spent inside Ali's, although at times I found her voice and view annoying. Especially when suggesting the victim was falking the rape, that seemed a stretch too far for a feminist. The character however was believable and likeable enough.
Top reviews from other countries
After the group drink too much and remember their student days, Karen cries rape and accuses Ali's husband Mike and the whole can of contentment is opened to reveal lots of wriggling worms, some of them dating back more than 20 years.
Ali's role at the charity is no longer tenable. How can she defend her husband against her best friend's accusations when she has spent years pushing the line that victims should always be believed? As the story progresses, layer upon layer of lies are revealed and Ali is left wondering how she was the only one of the six who seemingly didn't know what was going on. With each chapter, her cosy life is taken apart and thrown around.
I found this book completely believable because I know these people. I'm 10 years older than the protagonists but I have plenty of old college friends who went on to marry and create these cosy lives. McGowan's descriptions of life in an Oxford college when you're from the wrong side of the tracks (Hull, no less!) rang completely true. By the time these characters went to Oxford, there were a lot more female students than when I went, but I recognised all the characters and events with an authenticity that's rarely found. I actually believed whilst I was reading about the night of the ball that it MUST have been my college since the descriptions fitted completely. That's how real this was.
Do I believe that people can keep lies for 25 years? Absolutely. Do I also believe that one amongst the group can be so willfully ignorant of what's been going on? Again, completely.
I guessed the 'baddie' but not until a few chapters from the end and then mostly by process of elimination so I'd say the author did a good job of playing with the readers' expectations and prejudices.
I hadn't read Claire McGowan before but I would read her again on the strength of 'What You Did'.
What You Did is a standalone. It’s a departure in both setting and characters. It’s set in Kent and the story centres on a group of six adults who were university friends at Oxford. There’s a reunion at the home of Ali and Mike and it all goes horribly wrong. One of the group, Karen, has been raped in the garden and she accuses Mike, husband of her best friend. But it then transpires that they already had secrets that reverberate from the past to present. And what about the other member of the student group who’s not there?
Its difficult to describe events without spoilers, but this is a real roller coaster where every page adds a new bit to the story. The first 20% really sets the scene by introducing the characters and drops hints about earlier dark secrets. The pace really ratchets up when the son of one of the central characters is arrested for a direct and brutal attack. This is a story which really explores the characters and motivation and it’s truly thought provoking. How would we react if asked to stretch the truth? Where does true loyalty lie? Can deceit and betrayal ever be justified?
I’ve been gripped by this and to my surprise, raced through it in a single, sunny afternoon sitting. It’s fast paced with people who have flaws, faults and feel like real individuals. It’s a cracking story and McGowan shows her talent as a first rate author of psychological domestic thriller. Really enjoyed it.
The storyline is stretched so thin that it is transparent and the author treats the police as idiots.
This book, along with 2 others, were suggested to me via the kindle app and were free. I downloaded 2 of them, one was very good but unfortunately this one was not!
I feel that I should be compensated for reading such drivel!!!
Ali and Mike seem to have the perfect post-Oxford life. 2 Children, a beautiful country home. Mike is a successful Lawyer and Ali doesn't need to work but she has a chairpersonship for a Woman's refuge and does a little bit of journalism via thinkpieces. They congratulate themselves on having it together, even better they are still close friends with their group from University days and now, 20-some years later, they are all gathering together for a celebration. Everything seems to go swimmingly, if a little drunkenly, until Karen staggers in to the kitchen in the small hours of the morning screaming after being assaulted in the garden - an assault that left her neck braceleted with bruises, blood trickling down her thigh and her personality in tatters.
Up until this point I was with the book all the way. Yes, Ali came across as a little sanctimonious and smug, particularly with her "charity work" and her reactions during the meeting regarding a woman assaulted at the safe house by her husband. The party was pretty much how you would expect it to go - too much booze, simmering resentments that had festered since student days held barely in check. So far so good, if a little harrowing in places. The problems really start in the aftermath of Karen's assault. Not just problems with the characters but problems for this reader.
I really, really got sick of the flashbacks to 1996. I understand the purpose of them, thematically, but what grated was each flashback starts at more or less the same point and recounts what happened on their Leaver's Ball to Martha Rasby. It just felt like each time we returned to it we started in the same place and so got to read through a load of information we already knew to be drip fed one tiny little piece of information that may or may not be important. I did read each and every one, despite being sorely tempted to skip through but I became more and more frustrated with them.
None of the characters are particularly likeable and I felt it difficult to dredge up and empathy for any of them. Somehow I found myself almost disliking each and everyone of them, but particularly Ali (unfortunately she is our main narrator so this was a big problem). She spends so long whining to herself and refusing to face up to reality I just wanted to shake her. Yes, I get it that her whole world has been shaken up and the rug pulled from beneath her very vocal beliefs and made her look long and hard at herself but I really could not dredge up any sympathy for her.
I appreciate that this is a difficult subject to tackle and the author did so fairly well. Where I feel the story fails is the lack of a firm editorial hand. There is a lot of repetition of events (past and present), an awful lot of rehashing of emotions and it just felt like so much wordy padding. This could have been a much tauter story and would likely have been more impactful for it.
Bleak subject, populated by horrible characters with some very dubious "twists" thrown in to the mix. Not a book I could recommend.