Opening sentence: “I sit, listening to the drip, drip, drip from a shower that only runs for a short time to prevent me from trying to drown myself in it.”
I mean it literally when I say I COULD NOT put Through the Wall down. This sophisticated thriller is Caroline Corcoran’s debut and made me want to stay on the train a little longer just to keep reading. Why did I love it so much? Well, in alternating chapters, neighbours Harriet and Lexie tell us their story. They live in small, identikit flats in Islington and can hear a semblance of each other’s lives through their shared wall.
What transpires is a very interesting character study of both Harriet and Lexie. Their lives and personalities are different in so many ways but they both fall into the trap of believing ‘the grass is greener on the other side’. You hear a laugh through a wall and automatically think the person on the other side is living their best life. Not always the case: this is the main theme Through the Wall explores.
Lexie lives with her boyfriend, Tom; she’s left her job at a magazine to be a freelance copywriter so she can have a more relaxed, flexible life as they are trying for a baby. Lexie and Tom’s life seems idyllic to Harriet, a songwriter who has been jilted by her fiancé and is harbouring secrets from her past that she’d rather didn’t spill over into the present. As the story develops, both Lexie and Harriet conjure up versions of their neighbour that don’t bear a resemblance to reality, but it’s when Harriet decides she wants Lexie’s life for her own that things take a sinister turn: ‘She has no idea what I did and who really lives here, just through the wall.’
I don’t want to reveal any spoilers but Harriet’s backstory delves into some serious issues, she is a complex, very interesting character. Lexie is appealing too; her issues with identity and fertility are delicately played out and of the two, she is more relatable. I love how she describes her love of reading, using it as a way to escape her troubles: ‘An early night re-read of a classic has been enough to cure the majority of my ills. Nancy Mitford is my therapist, Daphne Du Maurier is my counsellor.’ Crucially, both characters are ones you want to keep reading about and invest in.
BUT what really sold this book to me was Caroline Corcoran’s writing style. She is a journalist by trade, so it’s no surprise to see witty sentences that often brought a smile to my lips scattered throughout and Through the Wall really was a masterclass in slowly creating a claustrophobic, tense atmosphere that grows thicker and thicker as the book goes on. This was perfectly juxtaposed by the short chapters for each character, so you are constantly flicking between the two POVs, while the overarching story tantalisingly creeps along and your anxiety levels rise. It’s a really clever thriller with that all-important brilliant ending – add it to your TBR list now!
/ Published by Avon 3rd October 2019