The Seduction of Mrs Pendlebury by Margaret Forster

Rose Pendlebury and her husband Stanley have lived in their house in Islington for twenty-six years and are now retired.  In recent years their street has become filled with young families who throw parties and employ a constant stream of builders.  The Pendleburys have nothing in common and nothing to do with any of their neighbours, deeming them snobbish, until the Orams move in next door.

Rose slowly develops a friendship with Alice Oram but as our omniscient narrator flits between the different characters’ thoughts we discover that Rose faces a constant struggle to combat her own anger, paranoia and irrational behaviour.  We are given a devastating insight into the world of mental illness; the novel is so cleverly crafted that by the end we feel as if we are intimately acquainted with the way in which it weighs on the sufferer and the knock-on effect it inevitably has on their loved ones.

I absolutely loved this book and I raced through it, despite (or because of) the unrelenting tension.  I’d never heard of this novel before but spotted it recently for £1 in a second-hand bookshop.  It was a great find and I’m so pleased I picked it up!

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