Remember Me This Way, by Sabine Durrant, is a tense and compelling thriller that keeps the reader guessing right to the end. Although its central theme explores the psychological manipulations of an abusive marriage, it is not a straightforward tale of good versus evil. The main characters are each seeking attention and appreciation in different guises, and are willing to put up with a great deal in order to satisfy their individual desires.
Lizzie’s husband died in a car crash a year ago and she is still struggling to come to terms with her loss. When she visits the scene of the accident, the holiday home that he owned before he met her, his artist’s studios, she realises that all is not as she had expected. She starts to question how well she knew this man and to explore the secrets that she now suspects he harboured. The chain of events that this unleashes causes her to doubt everything that she had based her marriage on as well as the reality of his death.
Many of the supporting characters in this book come across as unlikeable: the selfish sister; the mother who so obviously favoured one daughter over the other; the best friend who judged rather than listened and supported. Even so, I found myself struggling not to become impatient with Lizzie at times. When a crisis occurred she would lose her ability to use her eyes and stay upright. Perhaps I simply do not understand how panic affects a person, but she reminded me of the screaming women in movies who require rescuing when they had previously been portrayed as capable.
That criticism aside, Lizzie was generally a strong and complex character, albeit one with an underlying urge to please everyone around, sometimes against her better judgement. As the truth unfolded she could see that she had been duped, and recognised how her private desires had allowed this to happen. Feelings are rarely black and white and attraction is complex. The exploration of this made for interesting and thought provoking reading.
The book is dark and tense, probably best not read when home alone. It questions how much some are willing to pay for sexual gratification and to feel loved. It lays bare how little we can ever understand how those around us truly think and feel.
The opposite of a feel good book, this tale puts a negative slant on many different types of relationships. It is tightly crafted, with twists, turns and a satisfying denouement. It presents a challenge to see and accept people for what they are, rather than as we wish them to be.
My copy of this book was provided gratis by the publisher, Mulholland Books.