Book Review: What Alice Knew by T. A. Cotterell


I love when you go to read a book and it turns out to be a completely different story to the one you expected – not only is What Alice Knew a different story to what I thought, but it gripped me in a way I wasn’t expecting and really got me thinking about how far I would go to keep a secret?

From the back cover:

Alice has a perfect life.

A great job, happy kids, a wonderful husband. Until he goes missing one night; she receives a suspicious phone call; things don’t quite add up.

Alice needs to know what’s going on.

But when she uncovers the truth she faces a brutal choice.

And how can she be sure it is the truth?

Sometimes it’s better not to know.

My Thoughts:

This book got off to a great start, the mystery began to build and my interest was piqued, by page 86 (to be exact) I was hooked and I knew this was going to be a fantastic read.

From the synopsis, you may form your own ideas about what this book is about and I won’t talk too deeply about the plot as I think, if you have similar idea’s to me about what this book entails, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Cotterell created a fantastic character in Alice, faced with a tough decision, she did her best to stay true to herself and for that reason she was an extremely likeable character. Alice is a portrait artist, and I really like how the author used artistic references throughout this book. I must admit, some of the references to famous artwork/artists was lost on me, (Banksy creates graffiti art all over the city, that’s about the extent of my knowledge), but I think someone who has a more extensive knowledge of art, may really appreciate these references and it may give the story more meaning to them. Let me be clear, it didn’t take away from the story, I’m just wondering if there was some little element, or clever statement, I missed due to my lack of knowledge.

What I could and did really appreciate were the references to how a portrait displays a person’s truth.

“A portrait is a quest for truth.”

As the revelation came for Alice, her ability to paint these portraits for her clients, her livelihood, became conflicted. Almost to portray another person’s truth, you must know your own and more importantly, accept it. It’s this theme within the book that I really enjoyed. A book earns major point for me when it gets me thinking deeply and that’s just what this book did.

 “Sanity is the capacity to edit.”

“How long can you defend the indefensible?”

This book had me asking so many questions and in all honesty, questioning my own character – would I act as Alice did if I knew what she knew, how loyal is too loyal? It’s easy to say ‘I would do this’ or ‘she should have done that’ but when faced with the reality of a situation, you can only hope that you’d do the right thing.

The character of Alice was extremely well-developed, as was the character of Ed, her husband. The contrast of the differing personalities between husband and wife excellently displayed how different people deal with the truth.

An excellent read, I’m really looking forward to seeing what Cotterell writes next. I invite you all to buy this book and find out what Alice knows.

*My thanks to Becky Hunter at Transworld  Books for providing me with a copy of this book*

This book is available to pre-order from: Amazon UK (ebook release date: 1/12/16, paperback release date: 20/04/17)

7 thoughts on “Book Review: What Alice Knew by T. A. Cotterell

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