Friday 22 May 2020

#BlogTour The Secrets of Strangers by Charity Norman

It is an absolute pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Secrets of Strangers by Charity Norman.
About the Author
Charity Norman was born in Uganda and brought up in successive draughty vicarages in Yorkshire and Birmingham. After several years' travel she became a barrister, specialising in crime and family law. In 2002, realising that her three children had barely met her, she took a break from the law and moved with her family to New Zealand. The Secrets of Strangers is her sixth novel.

Follow @charitynorman1 on Twitter, on Amazonon GoodreadsBuy The Secrets of Strangers

About the book
A regular weekday morning veers drastically off-course for five strangers whose paths cross in a London café - their lives never to be the same again when an apparently crazed gunman holds them hostage.

But there is more to the situation than first meets the eye and as the captives grapple with their own inner demons, the line between right and wrong starts to blur. Will the secrets they keep stop them from escaping with their lives?

Wrong place, wrong time. I bet that's what the majority of the people who end up in the middle of  hostage a situation think. Luck of the draw. Sam doesn't seem to mind whether he frightens children, pregnant women or about crossing the line between threat and death.

The way Norman has woven the threads of coercive abuse, violence and desperation together to create an emotionally charged read is quite remarkable. There is no black or white, but rather a pyramid of greyish areas.

There is a scene between Mutesi and Neil that I found incredibly poignant. In the cafe we have the new norm and status quo of the nurse or carer and the homeless man. She thinks nothing of reaching out to help him and he is grateful for those stolen moments in his bleak life.

When Mutesi speaks of her turbulent past - a life filled with horrors we will never be able to comprehend or imagine, the status quo shifts. As she speaks and he tries to wave away the images her memories conjure up, in an attempt to protect himself and others and diminish her experiences, he reverts to the white man of privilege. She in turn is expected to acknowledge her status as the black woman expected to bear the systemic oppression of her race, and in this case also her tribe, and be silenced by him. So subtly done - point made.

Then the comparison of abuse and blame when it comes to Sam and his stepfather, and Sam and his girlfriend. The assumption that being a victim automatically means you could not possibly be a perpetrator too.

I think what I will take away from this book is that everyone has a story and none of us know what each individual has dealt with or is dealing with at any given time. It's important to keep that in mind when we interact and communicate - no matter how briefly that may be. It doesn't excuse Sam's actions, but it does put them into perspective.

It's an excellent read - absolutely food for thought.

Buy The Secrets of Strangers at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Published by Allen and Unwin; pub date Paperback Original | 7th May 2020 | £8.99.

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