Quick synopsis: Ashley is a fiercely ambitious events manager, prepared to go to great lengths to unsettle her boss Helena’s position at work. But when Helena falls pregnant, her problems with Ashley are suddenly put into harsh perspective and her world starts to fall apart without any help from her rival colleague.
Review: The Rival opens, and closes, with such promise but is rather slow-going between the two, and, in fact, didn’t pick up until about 75% of the way through. The author writes with such enthusiasm and knowledge about Helena’s unsettled mental state that I’m not sure why the story didn’t just focus on that – it was by far the most interesting part of the book, and the only point at which I was truly captivated by what I was reading.
The positives: I loved Helena’s “Now” character: a hauntingly detached and depressed woman who comes out with poignant lines such as: “death is only sad for the people you leave behind”. Her interactions with the accident black spot just outside her family home were chilling and so unique. I loved them, there just weren’t enough!
The negatives: Everything based in the office was relentlessly banal – and it didn’t necessarily have to be! I’d have liked Ashley or Helena to have been a bit more unhinged and to have caused some havoc in the office rather than reading about the way they passive aggressively spoke to, or emailed, one another. That’s just everyday life at work, isn’t it?!
Overall: 3 out of 5 stars.