Some people love goodbyes…
23-year-old Catherine is mainly interested in Facebook and flirting, but she reluctantly takes a job at a local care home after her mother puts her foot down – and soon discovers that her new workplace contains many secrets. One of the residents at the home, 82-year-old Rose, is convinced that something sinister is going on in Room 7 and that her own life is under threat. But Rose has dementia – so what does she actually know, and who would believe her anyway? As Catherine starts investigating Rose’s allegations, terrible revelations surface about everyone involved. Can Catherine find out what’s really going on?
Reading more Helen Fitzgerald has been on my to do list ever since I read The Cry many moons ago – it was a book I really enjoyed. Then I saw The Exit on the shelf on my local library and saw my chance to check off that to do list. Cracking the spine, it all started really well and I found myself turning the pages, completely drawn in.
Catherine is a totally self-involved, self-centred twenty something. I don’t remember much about being twenty (it was a long time ago!) but I do remember that my thoughts, feelings, wants and desires were the centre of the universe and so it is here. She tends to do what she wants, regardless of the consequences or the hurt she might cause and lives her life out on Facebook.
Saying that, she has a controlling mother who she is basically rebelling against in so many ways (mainly by being disorganised and disinterested in a career and life in general) and this goes a long way to explaining her behaviour so I found myself easily forgiving her as the story progressed.
Then I started to warm to her as she came to get to know Rose in the care home where she finds herself working and her initial instinct to do as little as possible, including helping the people she is being paid to help, is overtaken by her actually like them. It happens slowly but it happens.
I also warmed to Rose, a clever, independent woman fighting against the effects of Dementia and trying to get heard – something she is finding impossible given her condition. In fact, she’s not just trying, she’s desperate. Something is wrong in the care home but no one will listen to her. Catherine might be her last chance and the only way she seems able to tell what she knows is through drawing pictures no one else understands.
Which is when it all started to go a bit wrong for me. Because as much as I liked both women, and thought they were very well drawn, I really struggled with just how slow on the uptake Catherine was, even when her own mother is affected. Surely, I thought, you’ll figure out that Rose isn’t completely crazy now? But she didn’t, believing everyone else instead. There was one particular incident for me that I just couldn’t get my head round her ignoring. And, whilst Catherine, seemed able to suspend belief that something bad was definitely happening I just couldn’t.
Unfortunately, it was that that put me off the book. Which was a shame because until then I was really enjoying it. I thought it was well written and a clever idea for a story. It was also pretty dark, which I like in this type of book (which I think classes as a domestic noir / thriller), with some pretty twisted supporting characters. There were some good twists and turns and plenty of red herrings. If only I had skipped the offending chapter then this would have been a very different review.
As it was I was left disappointed. All wasn’t lost because of all the positives I’ve mentioned but it means I liked vs. loved this book. Not sure it’s one I’ll be recommending – sorry!