Cover Image: 33 Women

33 Women

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

I want to thank Netgalley and the author for gifting me the audio version. Very interesting story! I honestly couldn't put it down. Great murder mystery. Highly recommend. The narrator's did a great job!
Was this review helpful?
33 Women is the eighth novel from thriller writer Isabel Ashdown, but the first I have read. I will definitely be looking for other books in the future. This story is set in and around Arundel, and is an atmospheric, psychological thriller. The book opens in the 1970s when Fern is starting Two Cross Farms, a refuge for women. There are six founding members and 33 is the ideal number of inhabitant. Fast forward to May 2020 and sisters Celine and Pip have come "home" to deal with the dispensation of their reclusive and estranged mother's estate. The problem is, one sister is missing, Vanessa was killed fifteen years earlier and her boy dumped near Brighton Pier. It was assumed that she was killed by her brutal partner, but he was never found. They are joined by family friend, Una, an ex-police officer. The sisters and Una decide to see if they can find out what happened to Vanessa 15 long years ago. With the help of a friend and former colleague, the investigation ramps up. The women are sure that the neighbouring property known as a Two Cross Farm has information about her death.

This is a compelling, character-driven family drama with enough of a mystery to keep me listening. I was not sure what Two Cross Farm was all about, and it had so much secrecy surrounding it, that I also believed there must be more to them than just a refuge for women. This was a slow burn story, with two timelines. When another body is discovered and the woman's father mentioning that she was also investigating TXF, the police pick up the pace of the investigation. I enjoyed the twists and multiple layers of this story as they were peeled back. The details of the refuge/commune were fascinating to me as it is presented as a mysterious organization and I had no idea why it was so mysterious, secretive and sinister. I was sure I had figured out what was happening, with the banishments, turning over of all possessions and stringent rules that had to be followed, but, alas, I was wrong. The story had a cast of strong female characters in both timelines, but I did enjoy the present story a lot more. Having said that, the past point of view was very important to the development of the plot and story. I listened to the audiobook narrated by Candida Gubbins, Imogen Church. I have to say that the expression and tone used by the narrators ramped up the suspense and mystery a lot. The voices were well done and I certainly enjoyed listening to this one.
Was this review helpful?
33 Women was a very interesting book with a concept I haven't read before! Although sometimes frustrating, I liked the characters and identified with one. The suspense and pacing were good. The narrator was great!
Was this review helpful?
Yes, please.  Oh, I want more stories like this.  There are alot of characters; however, they are developed and work well.  I always have trouble with unfamiliar names.  With this being an audiobook, the narrators could roll names with a British accent, and it meant I had to pay attention.  The narrators were fantastic.  They worked seamlessly with the author's words.  

The story is odd, but believable.  The family dynamic was also written realistically.  Each character had their own depth, and I appreciated what felt like nonfiction relationships.  Once I quickly settled in, I was listening to a radio theater, and at one point found myself wondering if 33 Women would be on Masterpiece Mystery.  Seriously, I would watch, put Helen Mirren in the Mother role, and I  would buy the DVD.  

Towards the end, I had an eye-roll, shake my head, are you kidding me few minutes.  However, I confess I once again didn't calculate there were plenty of pages left to turn my thoughts around.  Smiling and shaking my head, I liked the ending.  

The cover is gorgeous.   The foul language earns this four stars.  

Thank you Dreamscape Media, Netgalley, and Isabel Ashdown.
Was this review helpful?
Secrets, murder and deception!  When sisters Celine and Pip reunite to settle their estranged Mother’s estate, the discovery of a woman’s body nearby brings back the the pain and questions in the unsolved murder of their sister.   Add in a secretive woman only farm community next door and a possible serial killer, now you have a story.  The  narrators, Imogene Church and Candida Gubbins do an excellent job voicing all the characters.  The story is entertaining although it does move slowly in a few spots, but it is well worth the read.
Was this review helpful?
This was my first read from Isabel Ashdown and now I feel like I need to get my hands on all of her books! 33 Women was written so well and you can tell Ashdown is a talented writer. It is such a unique story, filled with twists and turns that will keep your mind reeling from beginning to end. I did think this psychological thriller started as a slow burn, but the latter 2/3 of the book are filled with exciting anticipating and twists I never saw coming. I really loved how this switched between the POV of the 33 women and the POV of the sisters who are investigating their middle sister's death many years ago while also grieving the recent death of their mother. The cast of characters seemed pretty complex at first but it was easy to keep track of the relationships due to the separate POVs and I found each character to have so much depth. I find that with many psychological thrillers, I love the book but hate the ending, and I am happy to say that was not the case here. I thought the ending answered so many of my questions and wrapped things up nicely. I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
This one was surprisingly twisty. I did not see most of it coming! Although I sort of seen a couple things coming I could not guess the explanation and overall reveal!

I enjoyed it and really liked the dual timelines. I feel like I may have enjoyed it more if we got a different perspective on things in the past, but I understand why we have the perspectives we did. 

Very well done if you enjoy cult vibes, missing people, and secrets being kept!

At no fault the book book, the arc version of the audiobook was very echoey when sped up, and this also affected my enjoyment.
Was this review helpful?
I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the voices and the story itself.
The only thing that I was a bit disappointed in that we did not get a clearer picture of what made the mother the way she was, a bit more background (good and bad) on that character would have been welcomed. The only person that had anything good to say and tried to soften the personality of the mother was Una her long term friend.
We didn’t really have a typical cult situation here but it easy to see why the local population would think that way about 33 women living together, dressed the same and except for the farm stand during market day was keeping distant from all outsiders.  I can understand the desire of some woman to join this kind of arraignment.  To feel protected from what had been harming them previously or simply needing the structured live offered.  Not much different from living in a convent except for the religious aspect.
Both sisters a bit estranged from each other, each person dealing with their own set of problems and emotions are trying to find the way back to each other as sister before they drifted apart.  Family relationships can be complicated in the best of circumstances, add the extra baggage that these sisters carried and the result can be destructive and full of self-doubt.
Was this review helpful?
This is my first exposure to this author and it definitely did not disappoint! This is a well-written, suspenseful, complex, edge-of-your-seat thriller that will leave you breathless at times in anticipation of the next twist in the plot of which there are many. Her characters are well-developed though not necessarily likeable. None of them are whom they appear to be. This provocative, somewhat dark and twisted story grabs you from the first page and keeps you guessing until the very end where the author inserts a deliciously wicked twist.

Thank you to NetGalley and Dreamscape Media who provided me with a copy of this book. I am voluntarily leaving an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
The first half of the book was very slow and it was hard for me to get into it, but I liked the second half and I'm glad I stuck with it.  Though I wasn't completely surprised by the ending, I thought this was a good suspense novel.

The narration for the audiobook was great.   Imogen Church is a treasure.
Was this review helpful?
This book tells the tale of many strong women, jumping back and forth in time from the past to the present, with two different story tellers.  I liked the family dynamic between Celine and here sister, Pip, although it did take me a while to get into their characters and really come to like them.  Whereas family friend and mother-figure, Una, was instantly likeable.  Una was strong, surprising, reliable and the glue that holds the family together, and I wanted to be like her!

While the three women are working at clearing out their mother's house they learn the news of a woman who is found dead and it is considered a suspicious death, bringing up the painful memories of the past and their own sister's death 15 years prior.  Is the new case related to their sister's case?  And what does Two Cross Farm and the women who live there have to do with any of it?  As the mystery pans out and the clues fall into place, I was still trying to figure out who did it and I failed to do so, which is always a lovely surprise.  I listened to the audio book version and the narrators did a fantastic job building a very steady pace that had me listening for hours at a stretch it order to learn new clues and pieces of the puzzle.

Thank you to NetGalley and Dreamscape Media for the advanced audio book version of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you Netgalley for this advanced audio edition of 33 Women by Isabel Ashdown.

Cult books are super popular right now, and it's no wonder, they're fascinating!  And I think deep down we all wonder if or how we could be lured into one.  I've read multiple fiction and nonfiction books about cults, and they all terrify and intrigue me.

This one unfortunately, just didn't do it for me.  In all honesty, sometimes books just don't hit you at the right time.  But I attempted to get into this multiple times, and I just could not get it to stick.  It jumped around a lot, and was just a LOT.  There's also something that's hard for me to embrace about a caustic, all female cult.  I don't know, it just wasn't for me.
Was this review helpful?
This was so much more than I expected!

Sisters who lost a sister to murder years before return to the area where she was found to settle their late mother’s affairs. Now, there is another woman who has been murdered near by. Oh, and there’s an all women commune in the area too. It’s got everything you need to get really suspicious of pretty much everyone. 

I feel like every time I pick up something where the main character is uncovering things about a loved one’s suspicious death, it always seems to let me down a little. I’m not sure if it’s because these books are difficult to write or if there are really only 2 greater outcomes - it was suspicious or it wasn’t, and the details come later. This book did not though. It has interconnected murders, a commune that people definitely think is a cult, secrets that are actually kept secret until it is appropriate to reveal them & fit with the story rather than a “clever twist”. Full disclosure, I’m sure some people will think that some of the secrets revealed are a little over the top & not very realistic. To that, I say, first, you’re entitled to your opinion, but secondly, the women of the commune had all decided to leave their former lives and selves behind - some adopting new names, so i feel like there’s bound to be some interesting secrets in that group. 

I also felt a lot of different emotions while listening to this. I felt such profound sadness that a commune like this needed to exist, a little anger at their strict code of conduct, but also a feeling of gratitude that human resilience and strength can be found in some of the most unlikely places and people. 

I would like to thank NetGalley, Dreamscape Media, and Isabel Ashdown for a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Book review of 33 Women by Isabel Ashdown

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ This book was such a pleasant surprise. What a thrilling mystery with so many brilliant characters! I did not expect to be pulled in so quickly to this story. The author did such an amazing job with creating the storyline of each character, and the ability to go from past to present throughout the book was flawless.  The author kept me guessing right up to the very end!  Brilliant writing! I am walking away from this book extremely impressed. Highly recommended read!

Book description:
When sisters Celine and Pip get a call telling them their reclusive mother has died, the women are reunited at her riverside home in Arundel to pick up the pieces. But someone is missing - their middle sister, Vanessa, brutally murdered years ago and the victim of an unsolved case. As the sisters confront ghosts from the past, the discovery of another body in similar circumstances throws new light on Vanessa's death. Could there be more to her case than the police first thought? And what do the mysterious residents of Two Cross Farm, the neighbouring women's commune, have to do with it? What secrets are lurking behind their locked gates? And what is the significance of the number 33?
Was this review helpful?
33 Women by Isabel Ashdown is a mystery that brings 2 sisters together when their reclusive mother dies. What secrets will they uncover in the all women’s commune?
Was this review helpful?
I tried and tried to get into this book as I have liked her past books but i just cannot do the cult thing. Gave up after a couple of hours.
Was this review helpful?
3.5 stars rounded to 4

Ugh, I really wanted to love this one. I enjoyed it, I did, but I didn't love it like I wanted to. This was mostly a pacing issue for me honestly. I started this book, then put it down and read two other books before picking it back up. When I finally did, I felt the same, it dragged for me.

The Story itself was quite well written with dynamic, believable characters and it was very atmouspheric. It switches between the past and the presence as well as two different view points, which at times could be a bit hard to follow. I had to keep going back to re-listen to a few parts to make sure I had all the information and when these things were happening. 

The second half of the book did pick up a bit and that's where you get most of the turnout and things start getting twisty and coming to light. I kept going just to see what had really happened. 

The Narrators were wonderful, that was the best way I could keep track of who was telling the story at that time.

Thank you to Netgalley and Dreamscape media for a copy of this title in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
(4.5 rounded up!!) This audiobook (& 2 Cross Farms specifically,) had me hooked from the beginning. The idea of the place sounds so safe & serene, but have the women succeeded in their founders vision? 

Narrated by Candida Gubbins & Imogen Church (always 1 of my favorites,) they did a great job expressing both the tension & the tenderness this quick moving mystery is fraught with. Told through alternating chapters in the past and present, we're all trying to figure out if the new murders are connected to the old? & do either have to do with the women at 2 Cross Farms? I also thought the dynamic between Celine & Pip (& their family friend, Uma) was interesting.. I love finding myself in the middle of something totally different & realizing idk what is actually going on! This definitely did that for me, & the ending didn't disappoint. 

Thanks to Dreamscape Media & Netgalley for letting me listen to this arc in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
This is my first book by this author.  I chose it because in the past  I’ve enjoyed books narratede by   Imogen Church, and she  and Candida Gubbins did not disappoint.  This is a very well-done audio book with dual points of view; past and present.  If you like stories involving sisters and murders, you will enjoy this one!  I could see a movie here.  

The plot is creepy and cultish which is not usually my thing, but I kept listening as I was intrigued.  The set up is quite innovative and has a definite feminist thread throughout.  I did feel like I needed to suspend belief quite often as there were lots of coincidences and unrealistic events, in my opinion.  That’s not a problem for me if the story is good and this was an inventive one.

I loved the character, Una.  She was my favorite person even though she is not one of the main players.  Celine and Brambles were the two we get to know in some depth but I’m not sure they grew as much as they could have.  I couldn't really relate to either woman.  I did feel that some of the people in this book, especially the mother, were quite one dimensional.  

The ending was satisfying if fast and utterly unbelievable.  

To be honest, I’ll probably read the next book by Ashdown in text format as I found this particular novel a bit long and unwieldy.  I know I would be able to skim and that would have added to my appreciation of the talent here.  There was too much repetition of facts we already knew – this reader is not stupid!  I did keep reading as there was enough intrigue to keep me compelled to finish.  

Thanks to NetGalley and Dreamscape.
Was this review helpful?
This book was enthralling, in the sense that I was in its thrall and had trouble not listening through the night. I had an early audio book, and the narrators added to the understanding of the characters and the tension with their readings. 

Celine and Pip are somewhat estranged sister who are called home to their mother’s estate at the mother’s death. Their mother abandoned them and their sister, Vanessa, when they were only in their teens, leaving Celine to finish bringing up her sisters. Vanessa plays a big role in the story, as the murdered sister whose killer was never found. A close friend of their mother’s, Una, greets them at the house as executor of the will. Her years as a police investigator come in very handy as events transpire.

When another young woman is found dead in similar circumstances to Vanessa’s death, all three women become involved in getting Vanessa’s case reopened. Both of the victims are somehow related to a women’s commune (or is it cult?) nearby and the book moves back and forth between their investigation and the history and events of the commune. A theme of women’s abuse at the hands of men and their empowerment to move beyond it weaves through both story lines and results in both red herrings and a twist at the end of the book. There is a lot of tension as Celine attempts to make sense of conflicting clues and as the history of the commune is revealed. This plot is both suspenseful and thoughtful, and the book is very hard to put down.
Was this review helpful?