Friday 29 July 2016

Reviewed: Blind Side by Jennie Ensor

TITLE: Blind Side
AUTHOR: Jennie Ensor


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Can you ever truly know someone? And what if you suspect the unthinkable?

London, five months before 7/7. Georgie, a young woman wary of relationships after previous heartbreak, gives in and agrees to sleep with close friend Julian. She’s shocked when Julian reveals he’s loved her for a long time.

But Georgie can’t resist her attraction to Nikolai, a Russian former soldier she meets in a pub. While Julian struggles to deal with her rejection, Georgie realises how deeply war-time incidents in Chechnya have affected Nikolai. She begins to suspect that the Russian is hiding something terrible from her.

Then London is attacked...

Blind Side is a thoroughly absorbing novel that explores the uncomfortable side of relationships – how love can turn into obsession and how sometimes the truth is better left unsaid. This isn’t a straight-up book by any means as the author builds on many themes such as terrorism, immigration, family and sexual relationships, trauma, secrets, guilt and regret. The pace and the writing in this book was easy to become caught up in and I read this book over the course of the day without putting it down once. It’s a powerful and engaging novel, thought-provoking and difficult to forget once you’ve reached the end.

Georgie is distant from love after suffering from a bad end to her last proper relationship. So when her friend Julian confesses he’s in love with her, she doesn’t know how to react, and misguidedly and drunkenly ends up sleeping with him. This is the catalyst for a whole trail of mistrust and obsession to follow. Georgie believes Julian is still hiding something from her. And when she finds herself falling for Russian Nikolai, she’s also not sure she can trust him either. There are few pivotal characters in this book, but Georgie, Nikolai and Julian provided masses of intrigue that had me hooked.

Nikolai’s character was a fascinating one. Like Georgie, I was drawn in without really knowing anything about him and even after discovering things about him that should make you think twice, his character was one that had me interested and eager to learn more about. I found it engaging reading about Nikolai’s past and some of the horrific things he had been through. Aspects like his nightmares from time spent in the army and his scars and conflicts were handled and developed really realistically and I felt we got real insight into his character. I was never fully sure whether there was going to be more to discover from him and whether he was to be trusted after all, and as much as I wanted to be able to like him, I enjoyed being kept guessing throughout with little lines of suspense.

Julian I disliked from the start, because he appeared controlling and an overwhelming and overbearing character. As much as I was shouting at Georgie not to get involved with him early on, I could sort of understand where she was coming from, unaware at the costs which would come from having sex with him. But he was a total creep from my perspective and he kept on making my skin crawl – a really great “love to hate” character, however.

Blind Side both surprised and captivated me. It was tense and suspenseful at times, with some thrilling themes, so I can understand the psychological thriller branding but I think it’s probably going to be a fair bit different to what you’re expecting. I suppose it feels more real and believable, not to mention more human, and I could buy into this story much more than many other psychological thrillers. The book grabs a hold of you instantly with a spine-tingling prologue and it doesn’t let you go physically until the end – mentally not for a while longer as the themes are left there on your mind for much more than 300+ pages. A great debut – and I’m looking forward to reading more from Jennie Ensor in future.

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