‘Everyone has secrets. Even those who seem to be perfect…
On a rainy October evening, Cecelia Wilborg – loving wife, devoted mother, tennis club regular – is waiting for her kids to finish their swimming lesson. It’s been a long day. She can almost taste the crisp, cold glass of Chablis she’ll pour for herself once the girls are tucked up in bed.
But what Cecelia doesn’t know, is that this is the last time life will feel normal. Tonight she’ll be asked to drop a little boy home, a simple favour that will threaten to expose her deepest, darkest secret…’
Cecelia Wilborg has what seems to be a perfect, charmed life. She has a devoted husband, Johan, and two happy daughters. She has a good job, a beautiful home, and a circle of friends that she meets with regularly. She has a housekeeper to help her, and, until recently, also an au pair to help with the children. Cecelia also has a dependency on alcohol and pills. She has a secret, and, when she encounters Tobias, a strange young boy who ends up living in her home, she realises that her secret past may soon catch up with her.
What I Liked
-This book kept me guessing for quite a while. Even when I thought I had guessed the twist, I was wrong. Usually I’m fairly good at guessing the plot, but this one surprised me. It made the book intriguing, and made me want to keep reading, particularly the last 100+ pages.
-The characters were well written. I found Cecelia to be completely impossible to like, at all. She is selfish, self-serving, and manipulative. She lies to everyone to protect herself, and treats most around her with disdain. Tobias is also an interesting character. He is quiet, and observant, and mistrusting of others. His character is the key to the whole mystery, so he is crucial to the story. The way he is written made me sympathetic towards him, and I really wanted to know his story. It is important that the reader feels this way about him, because otherwise there is little point in finishing the book. The author does a good job in making his character one that we care about.
-The secondary plot, featuring Anni, I found to be almost more interesting than Cecelia’s story. Anni is a serious drug addict, doing whatever it takes to fund her habit. I still found her more likable than Cecelia however. She got clean, with help, a few times, and found herself sucked back into the life she was trying to escape. Despite this, she has a good heart, and tries to do the right thing when it comes to Tobias.
What I Didn’t Like
-Cecelia. While I applaud the author for how well the characters are written, the fact that Cecelia was, in my opinion, so difficult to like or sympathise with, made it a difficult story to continue with. I really kept reading this book because I wanted to see how her story would pan out.
-The story felt a bit slow. I felt like it only got really interesting in the last 100 or so pages. I’ve been reading this book on and off for a month or so, but I’ve read other books in between because it wasn’t grabbing me at the start. The end made up for slow beginning, so it is worth sticking with.
Overall, I did quite like this book. It has a decent plot, and while it’s nothing remarkable, it is still a good read. I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good mystery.
About the author
Alex Dahl was born in Oslo. She is half-American, half-Norwegian. She graduated with a B.A. in Russian and German linguistics with international studies, and went on to complete an M.A. in creative writing at Bath Spa University, followed by an M.S. in business management at Bath University. She wrote The Boy At The Door while living in Sandefjord.