When Helen meets Rachel at a pre-natal class, the two women strike an immediate friendship. Except the friendship seems much stronger on Rachel’s end, and even when Helen tries to set stricter boundaries, Rachel somehow always seems to be where Helen is. Before Helen realizes it, Rachel’s staying over at her house, and finagling invitations to various family events, and Helen’s beginning to suspect that there’s more to Rachel’s interest in her than she realizes.
Greenwich Park has an interesting hook, and a big reveal with a villain and a motive I admit I didn’t see coming. But overall, I found it more slow-moving and less thrilling than I anticipated. It also required major suspensions of disbelief — like, why on earth would an adult woman like Helen let Rachel take over her life so easily? Or, even if I could accept that Helen was really that spineless, why on earth didn’t she ask her sister-in-law Serena, or her other brother’s girlfriend Katie (the two other narrators in this novel) for help in setting boundaries? As good as Rachel was at manipulating Helen’s emotions, she was in many respects an unpleasant, stalkerish kind of person, and it’s hard to believe a woman with such a solid support network would be so unable to keep her away.
There’s also a subplot about someone constantly calling Helen about a mortgage she’d never actually applied for. Upon her husband’s advice, Helen mostly just dismissed it as telemarketing, at least until something happens super late in the book that leads her to call her financial adviser for, well, advice. That all ties into her inability to set boundaries, but I don’t understand why she wouldn’t have blocked the person’s number in the first place. Or tracked down the company and reported them for unsavoury business practices. Or, heck, even called her financial adviser earlier on, since it was causing her so much stress. And on the flip side, if the call was legit, why wouldn’t the company have conducted an investigation as to why the person who’d supposedly filed for the mortgage was now denying all knowledge of it?
The novel also had a bunch of plot threads — some red herrings, and some actual clues — that often felt semi-half-baked for most of the story. For example, Helen finds a note in her brother’s bathroom that makes her suspect Rory is cheating on Serena. We get chapters from Serena’s point of view, but little actual insight into her marriage to Rory, so that plot thread just kinda lies there without really going anywhere. It does end up having some significance at the end, but overall, it just felt under-utilized as either red herring or clue.
Similarly, there was a big deal about how Katie and Helen’s brother Charlie rekindling their relationship, and some hint at tension between Katie and Helen. But most of Katie’s chapters were about a rape trial she covered as a reporter, and about her eventual investigation into the mystery surrounding Rachel. So again, while Katie does play a large part in the mystery itself, she seems underdeveloped as a character. And apart from a minuscule reference to her being jealous about one of Charlie’s exes, I don’t think the story would have changed at all if she and Charlie weren’t romantically involved, either in the past or in the story’s present.
The story does pick up near the end, and as I said, the big reveal was an interesting surprise. I just wish the build-up had been more deeply developed.
Thank you to Simon Schuster Canada for an egalley of this book in exchange for an honest review.