The Cliff House by Amanda Jennings HQ May 17th 2018
Cornwall, summer of 1986.
The Davenports, with their fast cars and glamorous clothes, living the dream in a breathtaking house overlooking the sea.
If only… thinks sixteen-year-old Tamsyn, her binoculars trained on the perfect family in their perfect home.
If only her life was as perfect as theirs.
If only Edie Davenport would be her friend.
If only she lived at The Cliff House…
Th first thing I admired about this novel is the cover, it is absolutely stunning. I loved the simplicity of it, and the subsequent images it evoked. So often a stunning cover does not necessarily mean the content is of a similar nature, but The Cliff House delivered on both fronts.
I have to say that it was a novel that surprised me with content that I wasn’t quite expecting. I was expecting a tense psychological thriller very much in the same vane as In Her Wake. Yes The Cliff House is thrilling, yes it is tense and the psychological aspects are brilliant but it is so much more than that. It is a novel of teenage angst, of grief and loss and a house, The Cliff House, a house that means different things for the characters that enter through its doors.
For sixteen year old Tamsyn it is the last link and the place where she feels closest to her dead Father, still grief stricken six years after his death. I had mixed feelings about Tamsyn. On the one level I felt incredibly sorry for her, this young woman, who could not move on, stuck in a time warp, extremely naive and quite childish in her outlook. On another level I found her childish naivety frustrating, and at times wanted her to shake her, tell her to wake up and realise that the perfection she saw in the Davenports was all an illusion, the house nothing but bricks and mortar. If this is the way in which Jennings wanted me to feel she certainly succeeded.
Edie is Tamsyn’s opposite, strong, willful, streetwise, confident, out to prove a point and to rebel. In some ways I actually felt more empathy for Edie and found her more likeable, she may have a hard exterior but underneath was a girl who just wanted normal parents and above all a mum to share things with.
The relationship between Tamsyn and Edie was interesting. Edie the leader, pulling Tamsyn along, Tamsyn the willing follower, dazzled by what she perceives as the perfect life, the perfect family, desperate to be in the Cliff House no matter the cost, both using each other for differing outcomes.
The outcomes may not have been what they both wanted but the events leading up to the end results were brilliantly tense and unnerving. I could sense that a huge explosion of emotion and drama would erupt, that maybe not all would end well. The latter pages had me sitting on the edge of my seat and were evocative, chilling and just slightly surprising.
What sets this apart from the many novels in this genre is the setting. Jennings descriptions and imagery had me right there in Cornwall, on the cliff paths and inside the Cliff House. The Cliff House itself, dominated the narrative, with its white exterior, its myriad of windows and the stillness of the swimming pool, exerting its magnetic pull on the characters.
The Cliff House pulled me in and held me, enthralled in its clutches until it let me go, leaving me filled with admiration at such a wonderfully powerful novel.
Thank you to HQ for a copy of the Cliff House to read and review and for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.
About the author
Amanda is mother to three daughters and lives in chaotic contentment just outside Henley-on-Thames with a houseful of pets and a husband. She is the author of three books, Sworn Secret, The Judas Scar and In Her Wake. The Cliff House is her fourth novel.