The author of five novels, M Jonathan Lee is a tireless mental health awareness campaigner, working closely with organisations including Mind, Time to Change and Rethink and blogs regularly for Huffington Post. Having personally experienced anxiety and depression during his life, Jonathan draws on his experiences to inform his writing.
Richard feels trapped in his hectic life of commitment and responsibility. From the daily mayhem of having young children, an exhausted wife and pushy in-laws who frequently outstay their welcome, Richards existence fills him with panic and resentment. The only place he can escape the dark cloud descending upon him is the bathroom, where he hides for hours on end, door locked, wondering how on earth he can escape.
Often staring out of his window, Richard enviously observes the tranquil life of Bill, his neighbour living in the bungalow across the road. From the outside, Bills world appears filled with comfort and peace. Yet underneath the apparent domestic bliss of both lives are lies, secrets, imperfections, sadness and suffering far greater than either could have imagined. Beneath the surface, a family tragedy has left Bill frozen in time and unable to move on. As he waits for a daughter who may never return, Bill watches Richards bustling family life and yearns for the joy it brings. As the two men watch each other from afar, it soon becomes apparent that other peoples lives are not always what they seem.
Publisher Hideaway Fall
Publication Date – 12th April 2018
The simplicity of this book is stunning! And that is how it gets you!! You follow the thoughts of two main starting with Richard Brown who seemingly has it all living in a nice house with his wife and 2 children, but feels trapped, restless and dissatisfied with life and is planning his escape. And he spends his time with envy watching Bill who lives across the street who he sees as having the perfect quiet life as it is just Bill and his wife Rosie.
But Bill is watching Richard and having the same envious thoughts about his lifestyle – sometimes the grass isn’t always greener.
The routine of day to day living is taking its’ toll on Richard, the little quirks he used to love about his wife now annoy him, and the only thought that gets him through each day is planning his new life.
What this book cleverly does is discuss normal life which makes it easier for the reader to connect with. We all have those thoughts that someone else is having a better life than us, without knowing the truth behind the curtains and as more is revealed throughout this story it hits you that appearances can be deceiving. You understand the frustrations they feel, the doubts that creep in their mind that the choices they’ve made are the wrong ones. But still reluctant to change things and so the daily routines go on…
I loved how the author created this world with very little action, but it’s the observations that the characters make that resonate with you as a reader. It’s the assumptions we all jump to about others which make the truth even more devastating when it is revealed and I did find myself shedding a tear or two whilst the lives of these two men played out on the pages. My heart was a little bit broken by the end!!
A stunning read and one that will stay with me for some time.