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Name: What I Did
Author: Kate Bradley
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Thriller
Today I will be sharing my views on What I Did by Kate Bradley.
It is very hard to explain too much about what is happening in this novel, without spoiling it for the readers as it is very fast paced.
The novel is written in the first person from the perspective of a woman called Lisa and starts right in the middle of the action. She has been knocked out cold and tied up on her kitchen floor. She has a head injury so can’t remember why initially but eventually remembers she has taken her child Jack, and ran away from the father to a remote cottage in Hereford where she believed no one would be able to find them. However He has.
She has risked everything to protect the little boy and must now find a way to get free and protect him now. She knows she will have to fight against someone she loved and still loved who knows everything about her and she now has to risk it all to save someone she loves, even if it involves piecing together what brought her there.
The plot moves between two different timelines, the Now timeline which is events as happening in the cottage and the Before timeline where we learn about how Lisa and Jack ended up in this situation.
The before timeline is written at a frenetic pace and is well done as the story is written from Lisa’s perspective, who is an unreliable narrator as events come up as she remembers them, which isn’t necessarily sequential and highlights the panicked and confused state she is in in the Now timeline.
The unreliable narrator tool is also a great way of confusing and misdirecting the reader as well. In the early chapters it appears as though it is her husband Nick that she has run away from who is a domestic abuser.
However this is continually turned on its head throughout the novel as Lisa remembers other things and these twists literally do pull the rug from under your feet. It is testament to Bradley’s writing that the story completely turns on it’s head not just once but several times and manages to completely blindside the reader.
One very specific twist was effective which I won’t spoil here but it is delivered in an extremely blunt way that I had to reread it several times to make sure that I had understood the implications of what I had read. I even wondered if it was actually well written in how it’s delivered before I realised it was making me as the reader doubt everything I had read up until that point so is one of my favourite twists in a novel for a long time.
The novel has some very distinct themes which Bradley has clearly taken from her background of working in prisons and mental health hospitals. The central themes are domestic abuse, addiction as well as death and grief and also how the grief impacts the person and those around them months and even years after the event.
Lisa is a drug addict, which further highlights she is an unreliable narrator which I think contributes to the writing style as some parts of the story are written in sharp focus, whereas other things are slightly hazy, suggesting her own mental state as a drug addict.
I really enjoyed this novel and read it in huge chunks so if you love psychological thrillers with great twists and also family drama then this is a brilliant book I would recommend.
For those who have read it, let me know in the comments below what you’re thoughts were and also if there are any books you would recommend I read.
The book is available on Bookshop.org here.