Veronica and her wealthy husband George are unpacking boxes, hoping a fresh start in their newly refurbished Victorian terrace will help them heal from a recent trauma.
Next door, Simone returns to her neglected council flat. Miserable and trapped, she struggles to take care of her children under the watch of her controlling husband Terry.
When childhood friend Sarah re-enters Veronica’s life, things are thrown even further off balance. As tensions in their own lives rise, the painful memory that binds them threatens to spill into their present.
Three lives collide in this story of family, inequality and revenge.
I absolutely loved To Dare, with its fantastic characters, themes and a narrative that was just brilliant.
So what about the characters? Veronica, married to George, well off, a teacher who lacked the one thing she most desired, a child. Straight away Wayne made us feel empathy, an empathy that only deepened as their luxury refurbished home soon became beset with nightly loud music, and noise from their new neighbours.
Yet, as we know, people are not always as they sermon the surface as Wayne gave us a glimpse into a woman who endured an unhappy, lonely childhood. Way e managed to grasp Veronica’s need to belong somewhere, to have that closeness of a normal everyday family, not one where parents left you in boarding school or supposed friends during holidays. We saw Veronica’s flipside, manipulative, and bitchy as she pushed her supposed best friend to her limits.
Sarah seems to have it all, perfect upbringing, perfect husband and children, yet Wayne a woman who harboured a deep psychological hurt and grief one that threatened to upend everything she had.
Wayne’s interactions between Veronica and Sarah were superb, from childhood friends to their renewed relationship in adult life. You could feel the palpable tension, the sceptisim each had of the other, the fear felt by Sarah as opposed to the jealousy and need to destroy from Veronica.
But Wayne didn’t stop there as she threw in another character, Veronica’s neighbour Simone. She was everything Veronica and Sarah were not, downtrodden, trapped in an abusive controlling relationship, unable to protect her two children. Hers was a past of drug abuse, of making do, unable to see a way out of her predicament. I loved how Wayne used her as a tool within the novel, the conscience that sat on Veronica’s shoulder, that diverted attention, that events slowly spun around.
As each of the three women alternately told their story you couldn’t help but become completely immersed, your mind whirling as you tried to work out how each would find peace and closure on their present life’s.
To Dare was a brilliantly, intelligent read and one I will remember for some time to come.
I would like to thank Legend Press for a copy of To Dare to read and review and to Lucy Chamberlain for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to a participate in the blogtour.
Who is Jemma Wayne?
Jemma Wayne is the author of two previous novels: After Before and Chains of Sand. She has been longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction, and shortlisted for both The Guardian’s Not the Booker Prize and the Waverton Good Read Award.
Jemma’s journalism has appeared in The Spectator, National Geographic, The Huffington Post, The Evening Standard, The Independent on Sunday, Red Magazine, The Jewish Chronicle and The Jewish News, among others.
Born to an American musician father and English mother, Jemma grew up in Hertfordshire and lives in North London.