Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Quercus (2 Aug 2012)
In a village in south-west France, a young Englishwoman, Leonie, meets a quiet, withdrawn man called Patrice. He has no wife, no child, and refuses ever to get inside a car. Leonie is certain she can help this man, that her love will heal his emotional wounds. But Patrice will not tell her anything about his past. So she decides to search herself – unaware of what she’ll discover.
Five years before, Patrice was living in London. He was called Patrick, and he had a wife and child. And one fateful day in July changed his life for ever.
Out of Sight is a third person narrative and told in four parts. I really enjoyed the way this is laid out allowing the mystery and tension to build.
In Part One we’re in Sussex and it’s 2005. The reader gets to know Patrick, his family and parents. The reader is left on a cliffhanger. We know that something is about to unfold but not what.
Part Two finds us in France. It’s now 2010 and we become involved in Patrice’s relationship with Leonie. It is through a conversation with Leonie that we find out he was married for three years and is now divorced. He tells Leonie.
“I let her down. There was no future for us together.”
The reader knows he is lying about one thing but is still unaware of what happened on that day in July where we left Patrick in 2005.
Leonie knows that Patrice is wounded in some way and often refers to him as a wild animal being hunted. There is an incident where Patrice’s reaction is fearful. He withdraws from the relationship with Leonie by becoming unavailable. Leonie asks herself all sorts of questions. She wants to save him:
“How she longed to lead him out into the sunshine where he could be his best and fullest self, for she was intuitively sure it was what Patrice himself most wanted, however deeply buried that wish might be right now.” (page 113)
There is another life-changing moment and Patrice handles it in the same way he’s handled everything else so far. This is a poignant time in the story as we suffer with Leonie. Leonie’s best friend Stella directs her to look at an article from the Brighton Argus. Now Leonie knows what happened on that fateful day …
Part Three we’re back in Sussex, 2005 where everything is laid bare. For me, this was the most heart-wrenching and brought out the rawest emotions. Exquisitely written, we experience everything Patrick and Belinda do. The reader begins to understand more about Patrick’s childhood and his beliefs, which have shaped him.
In Part Four it’s London, 2011. Leonie is sharing Stella’s flat. Despite her loss and the subsequent depression, Leonie still holds hope in her heart that there is a future for herself and Patrick. This part caused me the most confusion in how I felt about Patrick. Having not liked him in France, then beginning to understand him when we revisit his life in Sussex and even sympathising with him a little … in London he made me angry and I loathed him. I could understand why he compartmentalised for self-preservation and why he never truly engaged with life – always wearing his mask, unavailable on an emotional level … but I still loathed him! I hate to admit it but I could see myself in Leonie …
It is here where we realise that other people also hold their secrets close and the wounds they carry, which interfere with engagement on a deeper emotional level … and the redemption that’s possible when we understand this.
Out of Sight is a story about forgetfulness, tragedy, loss, how we deal with that loss and carry on engaging in life … but it’s also about family secrets and how our role models from childhood affect our trust in the universe to keep us safe and provide for us. The reader is taken on a psychological and very emotional journey alongside these brilliantly portrayed characters.
This is a debut novel that has provoked all sorts of emotions in me and will stay with me for a long time.
I would like to thank the author (and Quercus http://www.quercusbooks.co.uk/) for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Out of Sight is available to purchase:
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About the Author:
Isabelle Grey grew up in Manchester and graduated from Cambridge. A former freelance journalist for national newspapers and magazines, she also writes television drama. Under her maiden name Isabelle Anscombe, she is the author of five non-fiction books. Out of Sight is Isabelle Grey’s first novel. She lives in London.
You can tweet with Isabelle Grey.