The Heights: Louise Candlish

Louise Candlish’s novel, The Heights, is a story of revenge told through several voices including a mother who lost her son in a senseless car accident. It’s the sort of book that causes readers to question how we would act in the same circumstances.

The story is mostly told by Ellen Saint, but there are also sections that are written by a journalist who is sitting in a writing class also attended by Ellen. Middle-aged Ellen Saint is married for the second time to Justin. They have a daughter together, Freya. Ellen, an interior designer, also has a son, Lucas, by her ex-husband, Vic. When the novel opens, Lucas is dead. He died in a horrible car accident in which his friend, Kieran, drove.

So here’s the backstory: Lucas attends an upscale school, Kieran, the product of a broken home is placed at the school by his foster mother, Prisca. Kieran, with a history of drug problems, learning difficulties, and rough edges riles Ellen immediately. She resents Kieran and his friendship with Lucas. To Ellen, Kieran leads Lucas astray; under Kieran’s influence, Lucas skips school, takes drugs, lies to his parents, and begins failing classes. So in other words, Kieran is every parents’ nightmare. Following Lucas’s death, Ellen is driven by only one thing: revenge.

As far as Ellen knows, when the novel opens, Kieran is dead and she begins with the statement.

It can’t be Kieran Watts, I tell myself. And if anyone can be sure of that it is me.

Because I’m the one who killed him.

Then why is Kieran alive and well in London? Or is Ellen, who has had other mistaken ‘sightings’ of Keiran in the past, wrong once again?

That’s enough of the plot…. It was hard to be in Ellen’s head. She is so full of hate and rage, that her mind is not a pleasant place. On one hand, since she lost her son due, rage is one option, but the majority of the novel dwells in this rage-filled place and it’s tiring. I had issues with Ellen almost immediately. There are indications that she’s a bit ‘off.’ The way she turns to her EX. The way Lucas is never at fault. … Anyway, this is a compulsive read–if only to get to the basic truths of this situation. I wish Ellen had been a bit more sympathetic.

Review copy.

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Filed under Candlish Louise, Fiction

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