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Anything You Do Say

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A captivating, ingenious novel by the author of The Good Sister about a woman faced with an impossible choice after attacking an unknown assailant, urging readers to ask themselves: What would you do? It's the end of a night out and Joanna is walking home alone. Then she hears the sound every woman dreads: footsteps behind her, getting faster. She's sure it's him--the man from the bar who wouldn't leave her alone. So Joanna makes a snap decision. She turns, she pushes. Her pursuer tumbles down the steps and lies motionless, facedown on the ground. Now what? 

Addictive and compelling, The Choice follows the two paths Joanna's future might take, depending on the choice she makes. If she calls the police right away, she can save the man's life. Yet doing so puts her own innocence at risk, as she waits for judgment on a charge of assault and the hope that her husband and everyone she loves will stand by her. But if she runs and goes home as if nothing has happened, no one will ever know. No one saw her do it, and it's only up to Joanna to keep quiet...forever.

390 pages, Kindle Edition

First published October 19, 2017

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Gillian McAllister

11 books3,128 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 858 reviews
Profile Image for Maureen .
1,328 reviews7,103 followers
September 17, 2017
I always find it really difficult to write a review for a book that I consider to be exceptional, to put together the right words and phrases to convey just how good it is, to try and do it justice. This is one such book.

Joanna (Jo) and Laura are on a girls night out - a few drinks, a chance to catch up on work, partners, just life in general. All's going well until a guy pesters Jo for a selfie, she agrees but then he won't leave her alone, so Jo and Laura decide to leave early and head for home.

They part company outside the club, going in opposite directions. Jo hears footsteps following her so she picks up her pace, but so does whoever is following. She believes it's the guy from the club. As she heads for the bridge leading to the canal towpath, her pursuer catches up, and in her panic Jo pushes him down the steps and he lands heavily with a thud, face down in a puddle. He's not moving, is he even breathing? Jo, who has hated having to make decisions all her life, now has to make the biggest decision she's ever faced, does she call 999 to get him help or does she walk away, pretend it never happened, get on with her life?

The author has been extremely clever in producing two stories in one here. Chapters alternate between 'Conceal' and 'Reveal' and follows Jo as it shows what happens depending on which decision she made that night.

It's impossible not to put yourself in Jo's situation - the fear and anxiety is palpable. The fact that a split second decision can alter the rest of your life. The attention to detail is amazing, particularly regarding the Criminal Justice System. The characters were really well thought out, and played their parts to perfection, and it was easy to believe you actually knew them personally.

I read a book earlier this year ( I won't say which one in this review) and it was so good that it's become the standard by which I rate every other book. Gillian McAllister has definitely reached that standard for me. An incredible read! Do yourself a favour and don't miss out on this one.

*Thank you to Netgalley and Penguin UK Michael Joseph for my ARC in exchange for an honest review*
Profile Image for Paromjit.
2,543 reviews24.6k followers
October 21, 2017
Gillian McAllister is shaping up to be a must read writer. I loved her debut novel but she has outdone herself here, a brilliant book structured to deliver 2 separate storylines which chart the paths of what happens if our protagonist, Joanna, had decided either to reveal her unintended actions and come clean or concealed them and left the scene. Joanna and her friend, Laura, are out on a Friday night, in an overcrowded pub, when a unprepossessing man presses for a selfie and harasses Jo. The two women decide to leave and make their separate ways home. Jo walks along a canal and hears footsteps following her, becoming frightened and certain that the man from the pub is after her, she makes the momentous and instinctive decision to push the man down concrete stairs. He looks dead, and it is at this juncture that we are given alternating chapters, delivered from Jo's perspective, giving the many and wide ranging repercussions on Jo's life and those close to her in the two different scenarios, of concealing or revealing. McAllister does a superb job in outlining the difficulties women face and just how vulnerable they are in social situations generally and out on the streets on dark nights, I imagine most women have experience of the fear of being followed at night, I certainly have.

Jo is a indecisive character who has struggled to stick to anything, often facing ridicule from her family circle, and is married to the supporting and loving Reuban. We come to appreciate the impact of Jo's decision on her entire life. It should be clear cut that Jo doing the right thing and owning up to her actions will benefit her, but as Jo is arrested and faces trial and the might of the British judicial system, her terrifying ordeal makes you question the wisdom of doing the right thing. Concealing her actions and running away brings with it the never ending and pressing guilt which Jo understandably finds difficult to handle. Each scenario is embellished with details that add to the plausibility of the story and lend overtones of reality. What is clear is that the old Jo is going to have to change and confront her issues if she is to survive in each scenario. For Jo, it is a journey of learning and discovering exactly who she as she expands her sense of identity as the stresses and implications of her situations hit hard.

McAllister writes an intelligent and instructive 'what if' novel with flair and style, it feels so real and authentic, and it could so easily happen to anyone of us as we ask ourselves what would we do? It is intricately plotted and her research is apparent in the presentation of the judicial system and the law. It is a gripping, compelling, and fast paced read that draws in the reader with ease. It is emotionally engaging as we invest in Jo's fate, waiting with bated breath to see what happens to her. The greatest strength of the book are the flawed and complex characters, not just Jo, but others, like Reuban, developed to feel authentic to us. This is a morality tale with no easy answers, and touches on just how an unintended act can lead to a life spiralling out of control. A brilliant and highly recommended novel. Many thanks to Penguin Michael joseph for an ARC.
Profile Image for Kaceey.
1,034 reviews3,553 followers
March 28, 2020
A defining moment in your life. A major crossroads. And is often the case, once The Choice is made...there’s no going back.

Joanna steps out with her best friend for drinks. Another typical Friday night - girls’ night! But when one man in the bar won’t leave Joanna alone it was time to call it a night and just go home. But Joanna's sixth-sense tells her that creep from the bar is following her. One decisive motion is all it takes. Now the consequences. What to do? What choice to make.

Gillian McAllister writes a compelling novel that will take you down two separate paths. I was completely caught up in the character’s struggle as she dealt with her decisions. It will have you questioning what actions you yourself would take in that split second.

This book was previously released under the title Anything You Do Say and I was excited when it was re-released here in the US. Though I nearly missed out because of the title change.
This was my second book by this author and am surely looking forward to her next.

Thank you to Edelweiss and G. P. Putnam's Sons - Penguin Publishing Group for an ARC to read and review.
Profile Image for Jayme.
1,107 reviews1,743 followers
May 8, 2020
Damned if you do, Damned if you don’t…

I remember, as a younger, single woman, going to a bar with a friend, and having drinks sent over. If you acknowledged the sender with a raised glass as a “Thank You” it was misconstrued as an invitation to join you. If you did not, you were labeled as rude.

Damned if you do, Damned if you don’t...

Joanna and her friend, Laura, are out for a drink, and their husbands are at home. They just want to catch up with each other, but a situation like the one above escalates into something unwelcome.

They decide to leave the bar earlier than planned and go their separate ways.

Laura hears footsteps behind her. A man is following, his hood is covering his face from the rain, but she recognizes the red trainers. She turns to push him and he tumbles down the stairs and is motionless.

Stay and Help? (reveal) or
leave so you will not face charges of assault. (Conceal)

Both scenarios are written in alternating chapters.

Damned if you do, Damned if you don’t.

After reading this book, I have decided that “sliding doors” scenarios do not work for me personally.

Perhaps I would’ve enjoyed this more if I had read the whole “reveal scenario “ followed by the whole “conceal scenario” (or vice versa) followed by an epilogue letting me know which decision Laura ended up making.

But the flipping between each possibility, every other chapter, did not allow me to become engrossed in either storyline, and I found myself bored and just wanting the story to end, so I could move on to my next book.

This was a thought provoking premise that just didn’t work for me stylistically.

Already released under the title “Anything You Do Say” in the UK, and making its US debut under this title on June 2, 2020

Thank you to the author and Publisher for providing a digital ARC through Edelweiss in exchange for a candid review!

And, to DeAnn for the buddy read and discussion on this one!
Profile Image for Irena BookDustMagic.
609 reviews476 followers
January 23, 2021
So… Do you know that case when you read a book and you want to talk about it with everyone around you, even though they didn’t read it nor they’re familiar with the story? And you just want to question them all the time “What would you do?”

That is what happened to me with this book, and I dare to say it will happen’ to most of the readers. I just couldn’t help it! I wanted to know what would my colleagues do if they were in Joanna’s shoes. It got so bad, I started guessing what each colleague would choose before they even had a say (I guess I’m weird like that).

One good thing came out of that: many of them want to read this book now (so my mission is completed! Gillian McAllister, you can now just sit and wait for the croatian translation (hopefully, fingers crossed!)).

So… what is this book about?
It is about a woman who’s story showed us how one single impulse decision can have a power to change lives complitely.

Joanna, our protagonist, is a woman who decided to have a night out with her friend. While they were in a bar, one guy asked them to pose for a selfie. They agreed, but after that the guy just wouldn’t let them be. He was way too pushy and he even sexualy assaulted Joanna, by rubbing his dick onto her, all while he had his clothes on (maybe I’m not describing all the details right, but it was some similar scenario if not the same).
After a while, when it was time to go home, Joanna parted ways with her friend and, alone in the dark, she had heard footsteps behind her. They were loud, coming after her, and she had an impulse, defensive reaction and as the guy touched her, she pushed him down the stairs, and he fell with his face down in a puddle.

What should she do now? Call 999 and take the blame, or just walk away, as it never happened?

From that moment, the story parted into two stories, Reveal and Conceal, that give you a see what happened with each decision.

I feel like there is so many ways you can actually read this book. You can read it as usual, parallelly follow each story, or you can read one story, then the other (or just one).

I was thrilled by both of them, but I have to admit that Conceal grabbed more of my attention. It was more intense and it kept me on the edge of my sit. One reason for that is McAllister’s writing style, because she did a great job picturing Joanna’s paranoia and her many trains of thought.

Reveal was also very good,
even though it was passive at times. What I mean is, sometimes I just read the story and watched what will happen’ to Joanna, not being too engaged in the story.
However, there were some moments when I was pretty nervous.

What I liked the most in both of these stories is how well we got to see what was going on in Joanna’s head. All the chaos, every little decision after the big one that chose her path, had an impact on her and we got to see how she was changing every day, but also how her behaviour and everything that was going on played a role in lives of people aroud her, and how they were changing too.

This is definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year and I highly recommend it.
Trust me, you don’t want to miss this one!

I only wish Anything You Do Say was already out so we could disccuss it properly, because I’d really like to know what you’d choose if you were in Joanna’s place: to call 999 or to walk away?
Profile Image for Lucie.
100 reviews38 followers
September 8, 2019

This 'Sliding Doors' genre novel expertly follows two possible outcomes, two separate pathways Joanna's life takes, depending upon which decision she makes at a single pivotal moment in time.

The chapters alternate between Path A and Path B, and the reader follows both pathways at the same time, like concurring alternate universes.

During a night at a club, Joanna is harassed by a man who won't stop touching her. At the end of the night, she's heading home on a deserted street, and she's horrified to discover the man is now following her. As she approaches the steps leading down to the underground train, he's right there, right behind her. She turns and pushes him... HARD. He falls down the concrete steps and lays motionless at the bottom.

Joanna stands there in total shock. No one is around. Does she leave the sexual predator where he lays? Does she call an ambulance? From then on, the chapters trade back and forth between the two resulting realities that are Joanna's life... the one in which she leaves the man vs. the one in which she calls for help. Extremely well-written and suspenseful. Neither choice is perfect.

This is the third book in the "which path do I take" genre I have read, and it was DEFINITELY the best. Just an awesome read in every way.
Profile Image for Gary.
2,590 reviews363 followers
September 20, 2017
This psychological thriller by Gillian McAllister is like the film Sliding Doors where the story moves between two possible scenarios / outcomes and makes the reader question what they would do in the same situation. The main character Joanna faces a life changing decision when she pushes an unknown assailant down a concrete flight of stairs. Should she call for an ambulance and explain what has happened or should she leave the scene to avoid the consequences of her actions. The book alternates between the two options 'reveal' and 'conceal' and tells of Joanna's fate having made her decision in each case.
This book is thought provoking and beggars the question which option would we take in the same position under the same circumstances. This book is different to a lot of other psychological thrillers and will keep you gripped to the end. Highly recommended.
I would like to thank Penguin UK and Net Galley for supplying a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
June 2, 2020
The story follows two paths that our main character Joanna can take after an incident while she was walking home alone. She has the choice to reveal or conceal her actions and each is explored in alternating chapters.

I thought it was an interesting premise to the story, however, I didn't get that what I would do feeling. I struggled a bit with the uneven flow to the story and didn't find the story convincing right from the start. I couldn't connect or get into the storyline. It just didn't work for me.

I received a copy titled The Choice from Edelweiss, and it publishes here June 2, 2020 here in Canada.
Profile Image for Michelle .
862 reviews1,224 followers
February 17, 2020
Imagine your out enjoying drinks with your girlfriend when a male bar patron decides to join the two of you at your table. Failing to get the hint to go away he becomes more and more persistent. He eventually makes a play to grab you and rub himself up against you. Horrified you and your friend call it a night and leave the bar immediately.

As you make your way to the train station, alone, you begin to hear footsteps behind you. You speed up and they speed up. You stop and they stop. This can't possibly be happening. The man from the bar has followed you. He's gaining on you so you: stop, turn, and push. Now you are left looking at his motionless body at the bottom of the stairs. What do you do? Stay and help or run and hide?

This book explores this choice. In the Reveal chapters our MC, Joanna, has decided to call 999. In the Conceal chapters she has chosen to run away. We as readers learn the fall out from each decision. Neither way works in Joanna's favor.

I love the idea behind this book. Don't we all ask ourselves at times "What would we do?" I know that I certainly have.

I did grow weary of Joanna half way through the book. Being in her head became tiresome and a bit tedious and I just could not muster any sympathy for her plight. My heart went out to the victim and to her husband Rueben who, inadvertently, finds himself also a victim in the aftermath: To stand by your wife or not to.

I was also slightly disappointed with the ending. There was one answer I wanted to know at the end of the book and I didn't get that answer. 3 stars!

Thank you to Edelweiss and G.P. Putnam Books for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Maxine (Booklover Catlady).
1,286 reviews1,257 followers
December 23, 2021
This is an intelligent and deep novel. I dove into the book without any expectations and found it gave me back more than I'd hoped for. This is a book that makes you think, question "what would I do?" and challenge your own morals and beliefs.

The clever plot is actually two plots. This is like two books in one. Moving between the two scenarios is seamless and smooth. No confusion or losing track of what's happening. Both plot lines are fascinating and make for an exciting read. I was propelled to know the ending of this novel desperately from early pages.

The main characters are faulty and imperfect. Extremely human in every way. Gillian manages to convince us that these are characters we might know, they could be friends or family. The truth may not be that far from fiction. If you like to examine people's motives, ideals, beliefs and choices then you'll love this book!

One night a terrible event occurs. A night that could change everything and impacts the lives of so many. A moment in time that can't be taken back again. This sets off the two plot lines and a lot of thinking for me as I read this book. We get an intimate look into one couple's marriage and the impact a few minutes has on it. I loved watching the relationship impact. I was very invested.

I felt a lot of feelings reading it. Sadness, anger, frustration, disappointment (at characters), happiness, relief and many more. I picked up the book any moment that I could find free. I like a book that woos me like that.

It's not a typical psychological thriller. It's a contemporary novel with a dark edgy taste, plenty of food for thought and a stunning double plot direction that's done very well. It is a psychological thriller in other ways. You can't read this book without looking into the minds of the characters and their actions.It also has thrilling moments that can be very unexpected.

A mature read, highly entertaining whilst challenging my belief systems. This would make a stunning TV drama or movie. I love Gillian's writing. She's a very talented author indeed. I'm a fan.5 stars and highly recommended to everyone. This book will appeal to readers of all types of genres.

I received an ARC of this novel thanks to the publisher via NetGalley. All review opinions are my own and totally unbiased.
Profile Image for Miriam Smith (A Mother’s Musings).
1,501 reviews151 followers
October 28, 2018
An ingenious concept for a novel, "Anything You Do Say", by the much loved and respected writer Gillian McAllister is an excellent book that I enjoyed from start to finish.
Incorporating a moral dilemma following a night out with her friend Laura, Joanna is involved in an incident that sees a stranger lying seriously injured at the bottom of some concrete steps.
The two stories in one are told from the point of view of both possible actions after the incident - reveal: should she call 999 or - conceal: leave and pretend she wasn't there. Both scenarios are written precisely as you'd probably expect them to happen in real life and I enjoyed following Joanna through both possible decisions.
Although a fabulously written book and it did keep me entertained, I felt half way through that it needed to move along a bit faster but it did soon start progressing after the trial and the united denouement to both stories was exceptionally executed.
I love this author's books and will continue to read more by her in the future.

4 stars
Profile Image for Nazanin.
1,054 reviews599 followers
January 7, 2018
4.25 Stars

"With sadness, you cry. With grief, you miss somebody. But fear. Fear gets under your skin. And you can do nothing but feel it. Worry about it."

I wish we all had this opportunity when we face a dilemma, we knew what’s waiting for us at the end of our choices so then we could choose wisely but unfortunately the real world doesn’t work this way and we must live with our choices, both good and bad.

Joanna did something. She pushed someone down the steps just because she thought he was following her. The question is, was he really? Now she has two choices. What’s the consequences of her choices? So which one is wrong or right? Do you think the right or wrong choice has a meaning at all?

"Stay or go. Fight or flight. Truth or dare. Which is it to be?"

It was a really good story, so well-written and I enjoyed it so much! It was my first read by this author but definitely won’t my last! With this book it’s liked you’re reading two different stories but all at once they are sync with each other and that was so interesting to me! Told in Joanna’s POV, 1st person and it’s a standalone novel. Overall, I liked it and I hope you enjoy it as well!
Profile Image for BIBLIOMANIAC MJ.
91 reviews44 followers
November 5, 2017
You are a woman walking home alone late at night when you realise someone is following you, edging closer and closer. What do you do in this terrifying scenario?

Joanna finds herself in this very situation, and in fear, she pushes her unknown assailant down a flight of stairs, where he remains face down, lying in an awkward position, unconscious. Should she do the right thing by calling an ambulance, explaining her motives for pushing her pursuer, or should she do what she does best, avoid the situation, by escaping the scene of the crime.

The author does a brilliant job by taking us into Joanne's two possible futures, spoiling the reader with two stories in one, in alternating chapters titled 'reveal', where Joanna reports her transgression, and the other story titled 'conceal', where she hides what she has done.

It is a story of fight or flight, right or wrong, with mere moments to decide which path to take. It's a story of how that one decision made in panic can irrevocably change the course of your life and the life of those around you. It's a story that examines people's beliefs and choices, forcing you to review your own morals, making one think, " what would I do?" But as we learn, there is no clear cut black and white situation of right and wrong, it's a situation that no matter which choice is made, each option has its repercussions and neither grants absolution.

With wonderfully descriptive writing, I could not help putting myself in each character's humanly imperfect shoes, feeling an array of emotions: fear; anxiety; sadness; frustration; anger; betrayal...you name it.

Intelligent, fresh and different, this thought provoking, frighteningly realistic tale had me wishing I could read faster in order to discover the outcome.

Gillian McAllister did a brilliant job in the way she concluded this book, a true master of her craft, I am in awe at how she tied it up so beautifully.

This book will most definitely make the cut as one of my favourite books of the year. Many thanks to the author, Netgalley and Penguin UK- Michael Joseph, for the privilege of allowing me an ARC in exchange for my unbiased opinion.
Profile Image for Rebecca Carter.
154 reviews92 followers
September 23, 2018
Anything You Do Say is a tense and fast paced thriller which reminded me in its structure of "Sliding Doors". The story poses a moral dilemma and really makes you think and question yourself, as to what you would do yourself in the main protagonists shoes.

On her way home from a night out, which ended unpleasantly, Joanna believes she is being followed by a man who was harassing her in a bar. When he gets too close, she turns and pushes him down a flight of steps. What follows is what happens when she makes two different decisions; help him or run away. In each decision the impacts on relationships, family, friends, careers and personal life are explored in detail over a couple of years.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it to fans of thrillers. Gillian McAllister is proving herself to be a "go to" dependable author, when you want a totally engrossing and original read.

With thanks to NetGalley and Penguin UK - Michael Joseph for the opportunity to read this ARC, in return for an honest and unbiased review.
Profile Image for Mandy White (mandylovestoread).
1,976 reviews502 followers
March 16, 2018
Absolutely fantastic book! I love that it was different.. 2 different takes on what happens next. What would you do.. conceal or reveal? So happy that my local library managed to get this one as it us hard to get here in Australia. Great book!
Profile Image for Liz Barnsley.
3,405 reviews989 followers
August 27, 2017
What would you do?

A momentary, impulsive, split second decision and suddenly you have your life and that of another teetering on the edge of the next move you make...

"Anything You Do Say" is a dual narrative, incredibly thought provoking character drama, peppered with realistically flawed people and a moral dilemma at the heart of it that may keep you up at night. Gillian Mcallister pulls no punches with either of the possible outcomes, laying it out for the reader, paring back her characters personalities, decisions, defining moments and taking you down the rabbit hole with Jo into separating possible futures, neither of which necessarily grants absolution.

The world is not black and white.

Doing the wrong thing is not necessarily easy.

Doing the right thing doesn't necessarily solve anything.

So, what would you do?

Fight or Flight. Right or Wrong. Make that choice...you only have moments.

Highly Recommended.
(Fuller review to come for the blog tour)
Profile Image for Louise Wilson.
2,679 reviews1,608 followers
January 20, 2018
Joanna is an a avoider. She has spent her audult life hiding bank statements and changing career aspirations weekly. One night Joanna hears footsteps on the way home. Is she being followed? Is it the man from the bar who would not leave her alone? Hearing the footsteps sped up Joanna turns and pushes with all her might, sending her persurer down the steps and lying motionless on the floor.

This book is quite cleverly written. The main character, Joanna Oliva, on the one hand is vunerable and scared and on the other she is calculating and manipulative. You can't help but have a little sympathy for her, but at the same time feel a little bit repulsed. The story is told in alternating chapters and two variations on what might have happened. This is an edge of your seat read and I could not wait to see where this ingenious storyline was taking me.

I would like to thank NetGalley, Penguin UK - Michael Joseph and the Gillian McAllister for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for BernLuvsBooks .
724 reviews4,628 followers
June 26, 2020
Every choice we make is a defining moment in our life. What we do or don't do - impacting everything that comes after that moment. Once a choice is made, there’s no going back - or is there?

The premise of this book caught my attention. Told in 2 separate storylines we follow Joanna and the different paths her choice leads her - to either face the consequences of her actions or conceal them. Joanna is walking home alone on a deserted street when she hears footsteps behind her. Having just fled from a rough man in a club she becomes fearful he's after her. As her pursuer catches up to her, she pushes him down the steps in a panic. Her attacker tumbles and lands face down in a puddle. He's not moving, not breathing. Jo is faced with the biggest decision of her life, does she call for help or does she walk away and pretend she was never there?

The story takes us through both of these choices. We see firsthand what becomes of Joanna as she owns up to her choice and deals with the injury she inflicted on this man. We also see what becomes of her as she grapples with keeping a secret of this magnitude. I loved the psychological toll both sides portrayed - Joanna's struggles were poignant and palpable.

Still, I struggled a bit to stay focused with this one and never felt fully connected to Joanna. I found being in her head started to feel tiresome after awhile and as a whole the unresolved ending left me feeling a bit disappointed.

Thank you to Edelweiss and Penguin Publishing Group for an advance copy of this book - available now.
February 11, 2018
In her second sensational novel, Anything You Do Say, Gillian McAllister has cemented his status amongst the top tier of bestselling authors with her intelligent and thought-provoking brand of crime fiction which is both articulate and well-researched. Launching into a moral quagmire of potentially seismic consequences from the off, McAllister wastes no time in presenting a dilemma fraught with implications and caveats.

What begins with a Friday night out with best-friend Laura and an innocuous selfie taken by a male admirer ends for Joanna Olivia when his unwanted advances take on a more physical form and border on harassment. Calling time on their evening out and going their separate ways, when Jo hears the rapidly gaining footsteps behind her the very natural response is to think that her pursuer is the overbearing man from the bar and with no mobile signal and a dearth of passers-by she takes the split second decision to get her defence in first. As her pursuer falls head first down a set of concrete steps the impact leaves him lying face down and motionless. As Joanna’s world realigns she is forced to make a snap decision and what she decides to do has the power to decide her future. In one scenario, the chapters entitled ‘Reveal’, Joanna makes the decision to be honest, call 999 and follow the correct path.. in a second, entitled ‘Conceal’ she chooses to turn her back, stay silent and continue with her life. In a monumental achievement, McAllister follows both of these paths through to their conclusions and delivers a well-rounded analysis of Joanna’s possible futures. Without wishing to detract from the shocks in store as a profusion of unintended consequences arise, readers can rely on the author for hard-hitting honesty in both accounts. More impressive it that in each scenario she takes time to consider the possible validation of self-defence, the intent of Joanna and the likely medical and legal factors through to the judgmental attitudes of society.

Lead protagonist Jo, and her husband of seven-years are both well-fleshed out, making their responses and decisions feel authentic and McAllister takes time to show how Joanna’s formative years have in turn shaped her subsequent actions. Both narratives are all the more convincing given the author uses this profile of Joanna to extrapolate her likely responses, making them feel understandable and natural. With an avoidant personality and reliant on others for validating her self-worth, Joanna naturally lacks confidence and has a highly over-active imagination. Married to liberal thirty-two-year-old and refugee charity working spouse, Reuben, with his sanctimonious righteousness often bordering on anal, Joanna is despatched in a world fraught with the implications and possible hidden meanings behind his body language and unspoken words. When these aspects are factored into all of Jo’s other relationships with her family, working colleagues and even customers, her mind goes into overdrive as she infers and presumes their likely reactions to her decisions. A snapshot into Joanna’s world, even as a reader, is exhausting and in both scenarios it is no wonder that she finds herself in a constant state of angst.

Gripping and compulsively readable, as the alternative stories take shape with far-reaching effects and shattering repercussions for Joanna’s life the definitive line separating right from wrong becomes less distinct as the pages fly past. Manna from heaven for book club discussions, this plausible and sympathetic account of the fork in the road turning point and the subsequent unwieldy what and if paths they might take proves both emotive and contentious. In both the ‘Reveal’ and ‘Conceal’ unfolding narratives there are shocks aplenty with a dispassionately honest assessment of issues such a racism and a woman’s right to walk the streets without feeling intimidated or ‘fair game’ for the lascivious attention of passing men. As the media and Internet mouthpieces hijack the incident to validate their own arguments, Jo’s split second decision starts to become inescapable. Compelling throughout, both narratives bristle with palpable tension, with the ‘Conceal’ timeline making evident Joanna’s guilt, self-flagellation, procrastination and ensuing paranoia which comes to characterise her life. As mitigating factors and issues such as previous good character and what constitutes reasonable force come to take on greater significance in Joanna’s world she is thoroughly unprepared for what transpires.

McAllister takes her complex and realistic flawed characters through every gut-wrenching moment of each scenario with fastidious attention to detail, imbuing both the ‘Conceal’ and ‘Reveal’ storylines with readily conceivable consequences. To follow both stories through to possible conclusion and remain on-point throughout is impressive and with the medical, legal, moral and emotional aspects of each observed with exactitude and veracity, McAllister has written a cracking novel. Not only does the author analyse the implications for Joanna and her relationship with highly-principled husband, Reuben, but the changes that emanate from Joanna’s predicament in hippy best-friend, Laura, and her successful and remote brother, Wilf. Gillian McAllister is an author who inspires confidence and her uncanny knack for getting to grips with her characters throws up the prospect of a very difficult set of characters and an entirely different set of possible dilemmas. Interesting, Anything You Do Say makes apparent that even amongst those we are closest to and choose to place our trust in, the implications of a snap decision have the power to change everything. A fascinating and well-rounded examination of making a life-changing instantaneous decision and living with the aftermath.

Prior to reading Anything You Do Say I had thought I was pretty informed about the intricacies of the Criminal Justice System, yet in the course of this astounding four-hundred page novel I found reason to question and analyse everything I have previously taken for granted. The result is a well-informed novel with practicable life-lessons that are readily applicable and relevant to all our daily lives. It is unlikely that a brief review will do justice to such a standout novel and kudos to Gillian McAllister for eschewing the current trend in popular fiction for air-headed females making a host of nonsensical decisions.
Profile Image for Karen.
865 reviews476 followers
October 16, 2017
The ‘Sliding Doors’ concept in books is not new, its been done before, as have books focusing on a moral dilemma and I’ve read plenty of those but to me this felt fresh and different. In Anything You Do Say, the plot revolves around two possible outcomes following an incident late at night by a canal path. Our protagonist Joanna is faced with a situation that every woman fears – you are walking home on your own late at night and you think that someone is following you. What Joanna decides to do forms the basis of the ‘Conceal’ where she covers up her actions or ‘Reveal’, where she owns up and faces the consequences. Alternate Conceal or Reveal chapters tell Joanna’s story and the path her life would take depending on her decision.

I’m not going to give away any more of the story because you do need to read it for yourselves. However I LOVED it. Joanna was the type of person that any of us could identify with – she had her flaws and her vulnerabilities and she made some questionable decisions (in both scenarios) in my opinion but I could understand why she made them.

The characterisation was spot on – for Joanna as well as the supporting players; her husband Reuben was a complex character and we see how Joanna’s actions impact on his life. His reactions in both scenarios play an integral part in the story.

The two outcomes flow seamlessly without confusion and I was addicted to both ‘stories’ without favouring one over the other.

The psychological thriller/suspense market is saturated with much of the same type of story but what particularly appealed to me about this is purely the fact that it is different. No missing children or toxic marriages – just a well researched thought provoking story that is so realistic. It’s quite frightening to think of the impact that a split second decision such as this would have. I have to say I still don’t know what I would do in this situation. I would like to think that I would Reveal but as this book clearly shows nothing is clear cut or black and white.

This is definitely a contender for my Books of the Year List. Do put it on your reading pile, you won’t regret it.
Profile Image for Jeanette (Ms. Feisty).
2,179 reviews1,897 followers
August 23, 2020
4.5 stars

Remember punk rock? Remember The Clash? Remember their great old song that was perfect mood music for hammering the dents out of your car? It went like this:

Should I stay or should I go now?
Should I stay or should I go now?
If I go there will be trouble
And if I stay it will be double...

That right there is the perfect encapsulation of the dilemma in this clever novel. This is the first sliding doors novel I've read, and I found it fascinating. Here's how it works:

The set-up:

Joanna is walking alone late at night in a not-so-nice London neighborhood. A man is behind her and she pushes him down some stairs because she fears he may mug or assault her. He is severely injured and he might even die. No one is around. No one has seen what she did. She did not intend to hurt him that badly. Should she stay and call emergency services, confess what she has done, and take the consequences required under the law? Or should she just leave him there and never tell anyone what happened? Reveal? Or conceal?
If I go there will be trouble...If I stay it will be double...

After the set-up, the novel alternates between the two possible trajectories Joanna's life will follow depending on which choice she makes. The Reveal chapters take her through the legal system, the fear, the humiliation, and the efforts to rebuild her life and relationships. The Conceal chapters show how she begins to self-destruct and her life unravels from the weight of keeping such a heavy secret.

This was a riveting read. It also has some moral and ethical heft as you slide back and forth between the two paths and consider which one you think you might have taken. Which form of punishment is worse? Is it fair to have to pay such a heavy price for a crime that was sort of an accident? It also shows how the choices you make for your own life can significantly alter the lives of those you love, in ways you never intended.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
315 reviews35 followers
May 4, 2020
2-3 stars

I so wanted to love this book, I really did. I love the whole Sliding Doors concept in books and two different story arcs, but I just couldn’t get into this book. Maybe it was the premise or the fact that Joanna simply drove me batshit crazy or that none of the characters are particularly likable. Her husband is a Grade A jerk who is constantly condescending toward Jo, although admittedly, Jo is a woman child in her 30’s who hasn’t matured past age 16.

I also struggled with the whole premise. Why two women who are married and in their 30’s are in a bar on a Friday night taking random selfies with men and letting them buy their drinks is beyond me. Do people really act like this? And this wasn’t a one-off girl’s night; this was a Friday night ritual. There is no excuse for any sort of sexual harassment, but the whole set up was just so off.

Joanna’s drivel ended up driving me mad and I found myself skim reading just to get this book over with. She is just so immature and directionless that I really couldn’t stand to be “with” her anymore. Finally, the other thing that I couldn’t get past was that this book takes place in London, but in the Conceal storyline, Joanna keeps referring to her weight in pounds (US) and not kg or stone, which would be the proper metric in the UK.

I am clearly in the minority in the assessment of this book, so I urge you to give it a go for yourself as there are plenty of 4 and 5 star reviews out there.

Thank you to Penguin Publishing Group for my copy of this book via Edelweiss
Profile Image for DeAnn.
1,294 reviews
June 2, 2020
*This one is now available!

3 Sliding Doors Stars

This tale features an alternating timeline where the main character has made a choice and now must live with the consequences. Joanna is out with her best friend when a guy at the bar just will not leave her alone. The two women leave the bar and separately head for home.

As she heads for the Tube, Joanna hears footsteps and feels that the man is following her and getting closer. She makes a split decision to push him away before he attacks her. He falls down a set of stairs and lies at the bottom. What would you do? Would you escape or would you check to see if he’s OK?

The book then explores both of those choices and the fallout for Joanna and her husband.

This is the second book that I’ve read with this format (the other was “After the End”) and I’ve learned these books are not my cup of tea. This one did bring up some interesting ethical and moral thoughts. I know some other readers have loved this one, so if it sounds intriguing, check it out and decide for yourself.

This was a fun buddy read with Jayme.

Thank you to Edelweiss, Gillian McAllister, and GP Putnam for the complimentary copy of this one to read in return for an honest review.
Profile Image for Ceecee.
1,911 reviews1,440 followers
March 31, 2018
This is a really clever story as it follows two scenarios that the central character Joanna Oliva could take after pushing someone she thought was following her down some steps and seriously injuring him. Should she help and ring for an ambulance? Reveal? Or conceal and walk away? The book explores the dual path that Joanna could take into differing scenarios and cleverly converges at the end. It’s a really good read and very well written.
Profile Image for Nicki.
623 reviews2 followers
October 19, 2017
Well this has certainly got me wondering which path I would choose if I found myself in this situation.

For the whole of her adult life Joanna has been a avoider.She would much rather ignore a situation than face it head on and deal with it.

Then one night Joanna hears footsteps on her way home from a night out.She has just had a bad experience with a man in a bar and she is sure that it is him following her.Hearing the steps speed up Joanna turns and pushes with all her might,sending her pursuer tumbling down the steps and leaving him lying motionless on the floor.

Now Joanna has to do the thing she hates most - make a decision,fight or flight? truth or lie? right or wrong?

This thought provoking,moral dilemma is voiced entirely by Joanna with the chapters alternating between conceal and reveal.The conceal chapters follow Joanna as she struggles with her guilt and how the changes in her behaviour affects her relationships with the people she cares about.In the reveal chapters you follow Joanna`s arrest,trial and what happens after she is released from prison as well as how the situation affects the people she cares about and the way that they treat her throughout the whole ordeal.The author has obviously done a lot of research into brain injuries and also the British judicial system but the story is not padded out with pages and pages of unneeded complicated information or a long drawn out trial.

No one is ever going to be the same after going through an ordeal like this and it was fascinating to witness how Joanna`s character changed as both parts of the story unfolded.

I can't honestly say I enjoyed one part of the story more than the other but I was definitely routing more for the reveal Jo than I was for the conceal Jo and I really felt so much sympathy for Jo`s husband Reuben during the conceal chapters.It's a thought provoking story of lies,secrets,relashionships,forgiveness,guilt and making the right decisions.This would be a very good book to be read by a book group,it would definitely raise some interesting discussions.I mean after all what would you do.....conceal or reveal?.

Many thanks to Penquin UK/ Michael Joseph for a arc of this book via Netgalley in exchange for a honest review

Profile Image for Wendy.
1,612 reviews554 followers
April 20, 2022
This novel has a unique premise, concerning a moral dilemma, and had me intrigued at first.
It certainly illustrates how life can change in an instant.
However the different scenarios were confusing and the repetitiveness was annoying.
I was left wondering why this novel is categorized as a mystery/thriller as I kept waiting for something to happen.
This was a book club read and I really wanted to enjoy it more than I did.
June 18, 2020
This is maybe my fourth attempt at writing a review of Gillian McAllister’s new book, The Choice, and I hope that I can finally find the words to describe what I absolutely LOVED about the book and what about it was a miss for me.

First of all, this is two books in one, a five star and a three star, so I’m compromising on four stars. Let’s start with the storyline which although it travels in two directions is not why I felt like this was two books in one.

Married MC, Joanna (Jo), meets BF, Laura, after work, for their weekly girls’ night out – this time at a London pub/club. The place is packed, and an Obnoxious Man is hitting on Jo, who is uncomfortable but trying not to cause a scene. Since Jo is not kicking up a fuss, OM takes advantage and continues to harass and rub up against her rudely until the two BFs decide it’s time to go and leave pub/club, each going in their own respective direction. It was rainy. Jo begins to sense that she is being followed and starts to panic; she believes the OM has followed her from the club. Scared, she calls home and tells goodie-two-shoes hubby that she thinks someone is following her; he remains on the line to provide her with some sense of security as she rushes home. Suddenly Jo hears the man running up close behind her as she enters the Underground and she pushes him, whereupon he goes tumbling down the stairs falling unconscious, face down into a puddle.

Panic sets in…what to do? Should she call 911 (or the UK equivalent) or should she flee for her life. She takes another look, and, noticing that the man is lying unconscious with his face in a puddle she realizes that he will die if he is not rolled over. What to do? She’s terrified, she hems and haws, she worries about what her husband will think of her if she does not call the police and if she does not render assistance, in one scenario, while in another scenario she realizes that the man she pushed was not OM and she is afraid she will be arrested unless she flees the scene. And that’s what she does: BOTH! In one version she rings off Saint Hubby not telling him what occurred, in the other she summons the police. For the rest of the novel the author takes us in both possible directions – Conceal / Reveal – fleeing the scene and not telling anyone what happened (knowing that if Saint Hubby learns about what happened he will certainly judge her harshly) / get the police out there and tell them what happened (in which case she doubts that Saint Hubby will stand by her side and support her to the end).

As if the universe splits open, the story travels in two directions showing us what happens to Jo over the next two and a half years on each of those paths. This is the storyline – this is book one.

Book two starts about mid-way through the novel and two and a half years later. This time it is the author who changes directions and dons a completely different mantle.

For the first half of the book KM shows no mercy as she deftly, sadistically, maliciously, claustrophobically, and DELICIOUSLY, pokes and prods Jo, sending her reeling like a silver pinball pinging and bumping her way into oblivion. Jo simply cannot get a break no matter which direction she follows. She keeps wildly slamming those flippers but cannot keep from dropping the ball. When Jo reveals and is accused of murder, Saint Hubby pulls away. When she holds back and conceals, she pushes him away for fear he will see through her. Discovery lurks behind every corner; an elephant is sitting on her chest. She is living with guilt and every setback leaves the blood pounding in your ears like a Tell-Tale Heart. She is a complete train wreck. This was so well done, absolutely 5+ stars.

Then, suddenly, everything screeches to a halt. Jo jumps off the train, takes control of her life, and we move into book two. Here, as we continue with both storylines, she is completely laid back, introspective, accepting of the fates that befell her. The change is so dramatic, it feels as if the author lost interest in her character or stopped having fun. The second half of the book felt a little like a lengthy epilogue.

Many thank to Edelweiss and G.P. Putnam’s Sons for an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Charlene Wedgner.
39 reviews28 followers
February 21, 2018
I picked this up in Sainsbury’s this morning and knew within a few pages I was reading a winner.

Hours later and a long bath my mind is blown…this book is incredible!!

Read it!! Plus saying it right now this has tv /film written all over it .

This is a book that will make you question not only the situation, the characters actions but also yourself??

What would you do ?

Life is a result of choices we make and this book realistically and scarily represents this .

I was so embedded in Joannas life even I was feeling guilty and anxious !

This is Gillians second novel and while I enjoyed her debut…this is something else .

I cannot wait to read more from her and I wish her every success .

Addictive ,compelling and extremely thought provoking .
Profile Image for Lynda Kelly.
2,030 reviews79 followers
December 24, 2017
I was quite enjoying this story but the leading lady....whether in the Reveal or Conceal chapters, is a neurotic mess and I just couldn't spend a minute more with her !! I staggered through it till I was 29% in and finally she had me beat.
Right at the beginning-the opening sentence is "It starts with a selfie"-and her and her pal were at a bar with some bloke they didn't know and they were having a selfie taken with him.....they didn't even know his name at this point !! Now, call me old-fashioned but do people do this ? Women in their 30s ? Both women in their 30s in solid, longterm relationships ? And, if so, WHY ?? It was never explained and the author never gave us a glance back to the lead-in so I'm none the wiser. I should've realised then that Joanna's a "bit" of a flake....I have to wonder how someone like this could seriously get through life. She lies continually, can't make a decision to save her life and is just a bloody mess altogether !! She fell over near the start and hurt her wrist but doesn't tell her husband. Yet there is no reason on this earth not to ! In the Conceal chapters, she is just so mental around him that he has to know something's up. She was just a useless basket-case at any sort of subterfuge. She actually says at one point-'I am never sure about anything', and she'd not spoken a truer word throughout.
This passage made me howl.....it was that ridiculous-she was ruminating about possible, future babies-"Perhaps they might inherit Wilf's long nose. I play with one baby, in my mind's eye. She has Reuben's ginger hair but my imagination. We're playing with a glockenspiel together". Then, she asks a policewoman, "What's causing grievous bodily harm with intent" ? I got to page 108 and she'd just explained she'd called into work sick and said this-"Nobody is surprised. I've got form for this unreliability, sadly...." and I sighed, loudly and switched my Kindle off !! Thank goodness I have nobody like this in my life !
There's quite a surfeit of Muslims mentioned throughout and I was shocked silly when I read that cells in police stations here have arrows painted on the ceilings pointing to........Mecca !!! Can you believe that ?? No doubt they're now arrested more than anyone else, perhaps !!
She does use American spellings throughout, an irritant of mine but there were NO mistakes which always impresses me and the cover is really super. I just couldn't handle such stupidity from Joanna !!
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