Cover Image: A Tidy Ending

A Tidy Ending

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Member Reviews

I loved Three things about Elsie so I had high hopes for this book going in..... It didnt disappoint I loved it.
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Rated 3.5 stars
So it took me a while to get into this book and then omg I couldn’t put it down! The story line was interesting and I love the nosey neighbourhood vibe and how everyone knows everything, I think it’s hilarious!! This book had so much going on but it fit together so well for the story line!
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No matter the genre, I’ve always found Joanna Cannon’s combination of life experience and astute eye a potent mix on the page. I’ve written previously of the ‘beguiling descriptors, poetic nuance and disarming insight’ found within her 2016 debut novel The Trouble with Goats and Sheep and her ‘slim but powerful memoir’ Breaking & Mending. And, in new novel A Tidy Ending, she combines complex characterisation and forensic plotting with that same captivating writing style.

A Tidy Ending’s lead character Linda’s first-person narrative, initially exudes a vibe similar to Nita Prose’ The Maid and Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, in that her world-view is small and heavily shaped by past traumatic events.

Linda’s social awkwardness evokes reader empathy and curiosity. But, as we delve deeper and deeper into Linda’s psyche and the time gaps between Cannon’s alternating ‘Now’ and reflective narratives diminish, an intense concern and foreboding grows.

This is a mystery for those who enjoy the thrill of solving puzzles, rather than the thrill of the chase. Shot through with her endearing, understated literary sensibility, Joanna Cannon’s A Tidy Ending is jam-packed with thought-provoking moral ambiguity and sinister twists aplenty.
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I was given this as an eArc from NetGalley. Sometimes when I request books I might go a bit broader in genre or topic than I do when I am buying books, and this time it really paid off. This book was unexpected in many ways. It has the sort of plot that creeps up on you - when i read the first page, I thought "ho hum" and then I just kept reading! Very unusually i read the whole book in two days. The plot unspools quite gently, but when i got to the end, I looked back and could see exactly how we had got there. I did not see most of the plot coming. Brilliant and unexpected.
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I'm afraid I just couldn't get into this book. I kept reading thinking it would get better but it didn't it was boring and weird, confusing and annoying.

I'm afraid I got to a point where I just couldn't continue reading it.
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Brilliantly dark and quirky - loved the way that things slowly come together. Many thanks for making this ARC available via NetGalley.
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This is my first Joanna Cannon book but it won't be my last! I had no idea what to expect and was kept turning the pages to try and figure out what was going on. Brilliantly woven, I was guessing until the end. There was just one comment that is misleading and could possibly be an error.. Otherwise, it's flawlessly deceptive and literally makes you wait for the last few pages to reveal its secrets. 

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this book.
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It made sense to me when I learned the author was a psychiatrist.  The insights into human behaviour are really powerful in this book.  The way the protagonist thought and how she locked onto ideas was really fascinating and drove the plot at a cracking pace.  The touches of humour - albeit sometimes quite dark - were great.
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“…we might not see the world how it really is. We might be mistaken about things and we need someone to help us who can see it all more clearly.’
‘But how do you know?’
‘Know what, Linda?’
‘Who are the people who are seeing the world how it really is and who are the people that are mistaken? How do you know which way around it is?’”

A Tidy Ending is the third novel by best-selling British psychiatrist and author, Joanna Cannon. Linda and Terry Hammett have recently moved to Cavendish Avenue from another house on their estate: this one isn’t so different, but it’s where Linda wants to live. She is dismayed to find that her life hasn’t improved: she’s still working her part-time job at the charity shop; her opinionated mother still criticises her every move; and Terry still ignores her efforts to keep everything properly clean.

Accidentally opening a catalogue addressed to the former resident, Rebecca Finch, she’s soon convinced that if this woman were her friend, her life would be so much better: perfect, in fact. Could she track down this potential friend?

But people on the estate are becoming uneasy: a young woman’s body was found by the canal, and this is the second one in just a few weeks. By the time a third body is found, people are talking about a serial killer, anonymous threatening letters are circulating, and Linda’s mother Eunice is getting anxious: the restlessness in the neighbourhood reminds her a little too closely of the reason she and Linda left Wales thirty years earlier. 

Linda prides herself on being observant, on remembering details, and she’s noticed that Terry is departing from his usual schedule, one of several things that are suddenly out of the ordinary with her husband. And she’s surprised that no one else has noticed anything about the photograph shown in the police press conference, but the police, who can’t be trusted anyway, are repeatedly dismissive of anything Linda brings to their attention.

Linda relates her story from within some sort of care facility, six weeks after everything happened, but it’s soon apparent that she’s an unreliable narrator. She presents as naïve, a bit simple, and is used to people underestimating her, doesn’t mind that, in fact. Those who are aware of her history might put it down to a traumatic childhood experience… 

From keenly observed human traits and behaviours, Cannon crafts characters familiar to us all from everyday life: the gossipy, hygiene-obsessed mother, the ever-vigilant, self-appointed street monitor, and the lazy, unappreciative husband, among others. 

Linda’s inner monologue is filled with insightful observations: “There are certain people who make you start to worry when they say there’s nothing to worry about. Doctors, for example, and often accountants. But especially police officers. When a police officer tells you there’s nothing to worry about, you know it’s time to be concerned” and “Because when something extraordinary happens, if you concentrate on the ordinary things instead, it stops you from having to look at it all too closely.”

Cannon has a talent for descriptive prose: “Mother has always been very good at spotting untruths and scooping them out of their shells, like whelks. Even when I disguised a lie in a wide avenue of truth, she could still manage to find it, because all she had to do was stare at me for long enough and out it would pop and wave at her” and “My mother is a surrogate for other people’s lives, stacking the empty shelves of her mind with nonsense” and “She said it kindly. Not like most people. Not like Mother’s words with their serrated edges.”

This is a story so cleverly constructed that even the most astute reader is unlikely to see the full picture before the jaw-dropping reveal. With red herrings, twists and distractions, and a chilling last line, Cannon’s latest novel is brilliantly plotted and deliciously dark. 
This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Harper Collins.
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