When Saffy and Tom move to 9 Skelton Place, they think they’ve found their dream home…until two bodies are discovered in the garden…
The Couple at No.9 is a domestic thriller, filled with twists and turns – the perfect read for Halloween! We had such an engaged chat with so many brilliant comments and discussions…
PLEASE NOTE, THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS
Q1. How long did it take you to get into this book?
Most people found they got into it really quickly, they found it intriguing and the alternating perspectives helped to keep the pace moving. A few found it a bit slow at times, but it was an easy read, even if it wasn’t the reader’s usual genre.
Q2. The story is told from lots of different perspectives and with flashbacks throughout. How did you find this?
Most people really liked it and found it kept the story moving. There were a few acknowledgements of how often this device is used in books, and how many names there were to keep track of, but overall it seems that most members liked the different timelines and perspectives.
Ellie said: “I really enjoyed the different perspectives, I liked trying to work out how they were all connected ☺️ although sometimes so many different names were confusing!”
Nia had a different point, which quite a few members agreed with: “Haha I have to be honest I have had ENOUGH of this device! It seems like every book I’ve read recently uses it! But then on the flip side as the story progressed I loved hearing Rose and then Daphne’s voices and versions of events.”
Q3. Mother-Daughter relationships were a key theme. How did Saffy & Lorna’s compare to Lorna & Rose, and even Saffy and Rose?
This question opened up a lot of discussion. Most members had been intrigued by the relationships between the women, generally feeling that Saffy and Rose had more of a mother/daughter relationship that Saffy and Lorna, and Lorna and Rose. We really loved Jess’ comment: “It seemed that Lorna and Rose didn’t have a close relationship at all. At first I thought this was strange, given the closeness of them when Lorna was young but then it makes sense when you realise what happened to the real Rose! It must have taken some time for Lorna to forget who Rose actually was. Saffy and Lorna weren’t close either but I feel like that’s something they were working on and it was nice to see how that developed especially at the end with Lorna moving back to the UK!”
Becky also made a great point: “I think Lorna and Saffy’s relationship was heavily influenced by the confusion/loss Lorna must have felt when Daphne took on the role as her mother and Rose suddenly disappearing, and the distance which could have come from subconsciously knowing she wasn’t her real mother. Saffy losing her temper and telling Lorna how she felt was authentic and really helped them become closer.”
Q4) A LOT of crime takes place in this book. Domestic abuse, medical abuse, fertility fraud, murder, false identity, kidnap…What were the strongest storylines? Did any fall down?
So many great responses to this question. Overall it seems that the false identity was the most powerful, dominant crime/storyline. A few members said they didn’t realise just how many crimes had taken place until they finished it and thought back over it.
Brandie shared a really good comment: “There were definitely a lot of crimes taking place, which almost deemed some less criminal because of the extent some people were going to! I really enjoyed the false identity reveal although I did have an inkling about it further on because I wondered who else the body could be 😅 I felt bad for both Lorna and Theo, raised by murderers in their own right and felt especially bad that the real Rose seemed absolutely obsessed with Lorna and her safety and yet was let down by the one who was supposed to love her and knew it was going to happen, as said in the letter 😔”
Rebecca summed up what it seemed a lot of members were thinking: “I think the strongest crime/storyline for me was an obvious one – the Rose/Daphne identity theft! To be honest, I really didn’t see this coming & thought it was done so cleverly! For me, although shocking, I think Victor’s crimes didn’t hit me as hard as I think he was more detached from the story as a whole.”
We also really loved Natalja’s comment: “Daphne killing Rose and taking her identity was the most powerful one for me. Even though I suspected it from early in the book, still couldn’t see it coming till later. Fertility fraud was an interesting one but rather from the point of view of different generations and especially the women’s rights point of view back then.” – This comment definitely got us thinking about the time the flashbacks were set and the crimes occurred.
Q5) Thinking specifically about the ‘real’ Rose vs Daphne/Rose, what do you think were the strengths and weaknesses of that storyline?
This was a very big question! One thing which came up a few times was that maybe the fact Daphne went from a child killer to a loving mother was a little unbelievable… There were so many great responses to this, we’ve chosen a couple which have summed up what it seems a lot of members felt…
Rachel said: “There seemed to be a lot of toxicity between Rose and Daphne during the flashbacks, and I’m not sure that storyline was given enough time to be fully developed – I understand that it might’ve been for effect to keep the identity theft a surprise, but for such an important topic I’d have liked to have seen more to their storyline/relationship!”
Jess commented: “I thought that Dapnhe really did care for Lorna and Saffy and would never have hurt them which made it more believable that she was the real Rose. It was surprising how long she managed to keep up the pretence when she had dementia though. The chapter from Daphne’s perspective made it clear then in her mind she knew who she was but she was still trying to pretend to be Rose.”
Q6) How did the Victor & Theo add to or hinder the storyline for you?
This seems like the part most members felt the book missed the mark on. While the plot was intriguing, there was so much to cover it could have been a book in itself, but was rushed over and some parts felt like an afterthought. Theo was a popular character though!
Ruth said: “I wasn’t a huge fan if I’m honest as it felt a bit like it was trying to do too much, especially adding in the fertility challenges Theo and his wife had. I quite liked that Lorna had some birth family left but I don’t think it was hugely needed.”
Sophie however made a great point when she said: “I found this fascinating and felt like it was an interesting unique reason for why Rose fled but I agree this could have been a whole other novel. Theo was a nice addition though and it got me thinking about the nature/nurture debate on how our parents/genes/experiences shape us. He couldn’t be more different to Victor.”
Q7) Were you satisfied with the ending? Anything you would’ve changed?
It seems like overall most people enjoyed the book, and it was lovely seeing how many people enjoyed the story when thrillers aren’t usually their genre. There were a few comments on the overall neatness of the ending – Sharon made a really interesting point when she said: “It just seemed a little bit too ‘and they all lived happily ever after’ – such a contrast to the rest of the book. Normally I’m a fan of neat endings but this seem at odds with the rest of the book.” – The neatness seemed to divide opinion – some people loved how everything was tied up and that everyone was moving forward, others were left feeling like it was a little too neat – a few suggestions of a part 2 for more!