Deborah's Reviews > All These Perfect Strangers

All These Perfect Strangers by Aoife Clifford
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really liked it

We meet Penelope (Pen) Sheppard when she returns (to her hometown and) to the psychiatrist she hasn't visited for a couple of years. And it takes some time to find out why she visited Dr Frank Hennessy for a year off and on when she was 15.

She's there now after an incident at University and before he'll write a report to assist Pen in seeking compensation he asks her to write down her experiences and read through them during their sessions.

Really only seeing the process as a means to an ends, Pen does as requested, but finds that the diary she starts keeping becomes like a lifeline to her recent past and to her future.

The novel's set in 1990 which is a similar era to my own time at University and I very much related to life in a residential college on a University campus. Everything from the college 'shop' to formal dinners to wine (or vodka) mixed with red cordial brought my own Uni and college years to mind.

I really enjoyed Clifford's characters. Pen is flawed, but a wonderful narrator and it's really hard not to like her. I noted some other comments from readers wondering how trustworthy she is / was. I believe she was honest with us (her diary). Less so with others... of course.

I didn't see the events of the very end coming, but I wasn't a huge fan.

I don't mind a book ended in a way that's shocking or sad or unfair, but this just left me hanging. Indeed I re-read the last few pages several times to make sure I didn't miss something that would give me a sense of where Clifford wanted to take it.

This was easily a 4-star read for me. Perhaps 4.5 though might have been a 5 with a slightly different ending. It would be a great read for bookclubs as there's a lot to debate in this wonderful debut.

Read the full review in my blog:


SPOILER!!!! Do not read any further if you haven't read the book!
As an aside, why didn't Pen say she and Michael were fighting on the roof and he fell off? She was obviously injured and there was evidence of his involvement in several of the crimes. It would have negated any suspicion around the direction of his fall.

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Reading Progress

November 18, 2015 – Shelved
November 18, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
Started Reading
November 25, 2015 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-3 of 3 (3 new)

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Tracey Allen at Carpe Librum Totally agree with you in your last paragraph Deb.

Carol -  Reading Writing and Riesling and SPOILER why didnt she say anything to the police when she noticed the dead girl was missing her bracelets - that said murder not suicide to me. And would have got her off the hook.

Lisa I agree. Maybe there was a reason the author did that-possible to add to the character of Pen-slightly bipolar?

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