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The House Across the Street by Lesley Pearse

Article by Swirl and Thread ©.
Posted in | | .

‘A compelling, page-turning insight from Lesley Pearse into the secrets of domestic life in a suburban avenue in 1960.’

The House Across the Street takes the reader back to the 1960s. Katy Speed, a young woman, lives at home with her lovable and gentle father, Albert and Hilda, her mother, a very cold and unfeeling woman. Her brother Rob is away at college and comes home on visits, but with the challenging atmosphere in the household, Rob’s trips home become less frequent. For Katy, her life is passing her by. She watches from her window the lives of others but it is her neighbour, Gloria who intrigues Katy the most. Gloria is the owner of a fashion boutique that Katy frequents. She is a charming, elegant woman with a confidence that Katy is enamored by, yet Katy’s curiosity is piqued as there appears to be more to Gloria than meets the eye. Katy has seen a black car pull up outside Gloria’s house on several occasions with the same lady at the wheel. Katy’s suspicions are raised when women, sometimes with children, go into Gloria’s home even when she isn’t there. Who are these women and what secret is Gloria hiding? Gloria has always encouraged Katy to spread her wings and leave Bexhill-on-Sea behind her. With the 60s in full swing, London is where it’s at and in Gloria’s opinion, it is where Katy should go. Katy is extremely excited at the prospect but keeps her feelings to herself as her thoughts run to her mother and father. Their relationship appears to be very fraught and Katy cannot abide to leave her father there alone dealing with her mother’s regular mood swings.

But, for Katy, her life changes the moment she is awoken early one morning to a fire after breaking out across the road in Gloria’s house. As the hours pass, it is clear that Gloria and her daughter did not survive the fire. With the local community in shock, Katy is unable to believe that Gloria is gone. Was it an accident or was there something more sinister at play?

Katy decides to continue with her plans to head to London with renewed vigour and is delighted when her best friend Jilly agrees to join her. It will be the start of a new adventure, a new life, and the girls set off with the optimism and joy of youth on their side. But Katy receives news that her father, Albert, has been arrested and accused of arson and the murder of Gloria and her daughter. Katy is distraught and in disbelief. Her wonderful, gentle father is no murderer. Katy is a strong and determined individual and decides to carry out her own investigation to find out the truth. Who really did set fire to Gloria’s house and why? Why was her father being framed for a crime he did not commit?

The House Across the Street tackles many issues of life in the 60s. The impact of World War 2 is still felt in many homes as folk try to rebuild their lives. Many carry memories that are locked away, swept under the carpet never to be spoken of again. One of the central issues that Lesley Pearse deals with is domestic violence, and the attitudes of many, in a 1960s society. Lesley Pearse has been writing novels for 25 years, having written her first novel at 49 years of age. Over her life Lesley Pearse will have seen the world change and will have experienced first-hand how certain aspects of society were dealt with in the 1960s and beyond. This knowledge shines through in her writing as she brings this period alive for her readers.

The House Across the Street is a novel that feels very genuine and sympathetic to the era. It contains a storyline that captivates the reader from the outset. The issues covered are all very relevant to that time and in some cases, unfortunately still relevant today. There is a mystery in the centre of this story, and it is slowly revealed to us as the pages turn.

Lesley Pearse is a woman writing about women, all with very strong characters who have dealt with many a difficulty and hardship in their lives.

The House Across the Street is an engaging read, one with quite an emotional storyline wrapped around an abhorrent and vindictive crime, yet filled with the warmth that seems to be part of the characteristic style of a Lesley Pearse novel.

Authentic. Charming. Accomplished.

(c) Swirl and Thread

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