Thank you to Netgalley, the publisher and Gillian McAllister for my review copy of Anything You Do Say.
I have never seen the film Sliding Doors but if you have, this book follows a similar concept in that it is told in the form of two scenarios. Like two stories running concurrently, based on a decision made.
Olivia and Laura are out for their regular Friday night drinks when a man begins to harass Olivia. She’d agreed to take a selfie with him, let him buy her a drink but then he gets pushy, starts touching her inappropriately, getting in her personal space etc. A moment we’ve all experienced, not just women but men too, that pushy guy or girl who’s maybe a bit worse for wear but whose behaviour is inexcusable.
Feeling uncomfortable, the two women leave the bar and set off home in separate directions. Halfway to the tube station, Olivia gets the sense that someone is following her, she tries to call her husband but the signal goes, spotting the guy from the bar’s bright red trainees coming up alongside her, Olivia panics, turning around, she shoved her would be attacker away from her as hard as possible, and he falls down the concrete stairs to the canal side and doesn’t move.
Now Olivia is faced with a decision. Does she call 999 save the man’s life and face the consequences of what she has done? Or does she walk away, pretend it hasn’t happened and live with the guilt?
The rest of the novel tells the story from two angles, Reveal and Conceal. One sees Olivia calling 999, being arrested and facing the consequences of her actions, the other sees her leaving him there, and trying to live with herself and cover up the crime afterwards.
It was a really interesting way to read a novel. The whole way through I found myself questioning, not only my own morals and beliefs, I.e what would I do in that situation, but also which one was true and which one had the worse consequences? Yes, admitting to it means you’re admitting to a crime which may end in a prison sentence, but concealing it means you’ve got to face your friends and family knowing what you’ve done and living with that. Which is worse?
The story really pulls you along and in all honesty I was surprised how much I identified with Olivia. Like literally, other than the pushing the man down the stairs thing, me and her could be the same person. Her inability to commit to anything, her mad schemes, her need to prove herself, her intelligence but procrastination letting her down. Olivia is like my soul mate. I think that really gave me such a strong emotional connection with her because Sometimes it felt like the story was about me. It was a weird feeling. But it really allowed me to get lost in the story.
One of my favourite novels from this year. Excellent.