Who do you believe?
In the hushed aftermath of a total eclipse, Laura witnesses a brutal attack.
She and her boyfriend Kit call the police, and in that moment, it is not only the victim’s life that is changed forever.
Fifteen years on, Laura and Kit live in fear.
And while Laura knows she was right to speak out, the events that follow have taught her that you can never see the whole picture: something – and someone – is always in the dark…
1999. In a field at an eclipse festival, 21 year old Lara comes across what she instinctively believes is a rape. Something about the look in the man’s eyes, the blankness in the woman’s, the harness of the scene. Despite the man (Jamie) saying it was consensual, not what it looks like, and the woman (Ruth) saying nothing at all, Laura calls the police – setting in motion a chain of events that will change her life and that of her boyfriend (Kit) in ways neither could have predicted.
2015, Laura is six months pregnant and suffering from anxiety. She and Kit are married and he is about to leave her for a trip to another eclipse festival, bringing back memories of that fateful summer and what happened next. Told in chapters that move between 1999 and 2015 and Laura and Kit’s stories, He Said/She Said slowly unfolds into something more than I originally expected (though given Erin Kelly’s other work shouldn’t have been surprised about).
Slowly, a tale unfolds not just of rape but of it’s impact, on the victim, the perpetrator, families, friends and witnesses. He Said/She Said looks at consent and sexuality, why we view women’s in one way and men’s in another. Somehow it does all this not only well but in the context of a thriller that had me turning the pages, desperate to know what would happen next. It is a real testament to Erin Kelly that she can weave such a tale sensitively but also with such darkness and edge.
And it is a dark book, one that makes you question yourself and your assumptions and doesn’t shine any of the characters in that good a light. As Kit and Laura’s stories unfold you realise that nothing is quite as it seems, that truth – odd as it sounds – can be subjective and is often also about perception, what we perceive to have happened.
Given the subject matter, this isn’t always an easy read, but is a good one. Laura and Kit are so well drawn I felt I knew them. I was happy when they did the right thing, disappointed when they didn’t. Ruth and Jamie meanwhile became larger than life, seen as they were only through Kit and Laura’s eyes. Did I believe them, like them, loathe them? Hard to say at points. I definitely didn’t trust them or their truths.
And, by the end, wanting to the know the truth was consuming me as much as it was Laura. I didn’t just want to know, I needed to know. And what I found out left me shocked. It wasn’t the ending I expected. It was, though, probably the right ending for this twisted tale, one I highly recommend and liked a lot.
Note: I received a copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review. All thoughts, feelings and opinions are my own