The Old You
Unreliable narrators are a staple ingredient of psychological thrillers. Writers are forever finding new ways of keeping readers guessing by having them withhold the truth from us – whether consciously or not. So far we’ve had girls on trains with drunken blackouts, isolated women with amnesia, old ladies with a tendency to forget things, even girlfriends in a coma who are unable to tell if their boyfriend is as loving as he appears.
In her latest novel, Louise Voss turns the idea on its head. It’s not her narrator who’s suffering from a form of dementia but the man she loves. Lynn gave up work when she married Ed, the love of her life. Ten years on, Ed has been diagnosed with a form of early-onset dementia known as Pick’s Disease. He starts to forget things. His moods change. Strange things happen. Then Lynn begins to wonder if Ed is being entirely honest with her. Gradually the situation becomes more sinister and our heroine’s apparently perfect world begins to crumble around her.
As you’d expect from a writer with nearly a dozen books to her name, Voss has plenty of cunning tricks up her sleeve. At heart, this is a portrait of a marriage in crisis, the lies we tell ourselves and the secrets we keep in order to hang on to the emotional and financial security a long-term relationship can bring. ‘The Old You’ takes on different meanings as Lynn longs for the man Ed once was, but is also forced to question his past – and her own.
There are plenty of twists, lots of emotional insights and enough tension to please even the most demanding reader. A superior slice of domestic noir. I loved it.
Orenda Books, £8.99