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The Betrayals


The Betrayals

Fiona Neill’s THE BETRAYALS starts innocently enough with a letter that is addressed to one friend that shares a desperate request for help from another friend. When the letter is intercepted by Daisy, the fragile daughter of Rosie, secrets begin to eke out.

Add to that the fact that Rosie and Lisa are no longer friends, and THE BETRAYALS becomes even more interesting. Years ago, on a summer vacation on the Norfolk seacoast, the two main families are destroyed when Lisa has an affair with Rosie’s husband, Nick. The affair unravels Rosie’s family, and Lisa and Nick end up together.

Perhaps needless to say, Rosie and Lisa’s lifelong friendship is shattered, too. How does a friendship come back from such an upheaval, such betrayal? Lisa’s letter is sent in the hopes of recovering their friendship years later, when Lisa is facing a battle with breast cancer.

"What makes THE BETRAYALS an interesting and novel psychological read is that the story --- both present day and past --- is told from the point of view of four narrators."

What makes THE BETRAYALS an interesting and novel psychological read is that the story --- both present day and past --- is told from the point of view of four narrators. Long-buried memories from that summer vacation come to the surface, but what is the truth? Nick’s version of the affair and his relationship with Rosie differ from Rosie’s version. Teenage son Max sees the events through guilt-colored glasses, blaming himself for the affair. And frail Daisy can’t tell fact from fiction as her grip on reality becomes more tenuous each day. There isn't a reliable narrator in the bunch.

Interestingly, Nick’s theory that individuals rewrite history to suit their own impressions of themselves comes into play throughout the weaving of four versions, as we see the individual authors of the tale crafting memories that can’t always be reconciled with the other versions. It is difficult throughout the book to know whose tale is the most accurate, and this is upheld until the conclusion. The characters, who are not always the most likable of individuals, keep us guessing as to where blame truly resides.

Fiona Neill is at her best when she’s writing about the modern family, in all its configurations and trappings. THE BETRAYALS is no exception. Rosie, Lisa, Max, Daisy and Nick are fully human in their foibles, idiosyncrasies and even downright bad behavior. As readers, we don’t know who to like or dislike because we see them at their fullest. There is something almost understated about the roundness of the characters --- something we should accept as “is” rather than trying to look for more. In the end, we never know the complete story, and that’s okay, because each story has merit.

Reviewed by Roberta O'Hara on September 28, 2018

The Betrayals
by Fiona Neill

  • Publication Date: January 14, 2020
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Pegasus Books
  • ISBN-10: 164313339X
  • ISBN-13: 9781643133393