Aussie Book Review: Like I Can Love by Kim Lock

“On a hot January afternoon, Fairlie Winter receives a phone call. Her best friend has just taken her own life.

Jenna Rudolph, 26 years old, has left behind a devoted husband, an adorable young son and a stunning vineyard. But Fairlie knows she should have seen this coming.

Yet Fairlie doesn't know what Jenna's husband Ark is hiding, nor does she know what Jenna's mother Evelyn did to drive mother and daughter apart all those years ago.

Until Fairlie opens her mail and finds a letter. In Jenna's handwriting. Along with a key.

Driven to search for answers, Fairlie uncovers a horrifying past, a desperate mother, and a devastating secret kept by those she loves the most.

Heartbreaking and terrifying, Like I Can Love explores love in all its forms - from the most fragile to the most dangerous - and the unthinkable things we do in its name.”

In a small town in the eighties, two girls, best friends since they could walk, Jenna and Fairlie became inseparable. Then, Jenna met the man of her dreams, settled down and started a family.

Now, Fairlie has just received a phone call to say that Jenna has taken her own life. She is left floundering and feeling utterly helpless in the face of this tragic event, knowing that Jenna hasn’t been in a good frame of mind for some months, especially since Henry’s birth but could it have been so bad that she was forced to take her own life?

Compelled to find out what drove her friend to carry out this uncharacteristic act, what she discovers is that Jenna’s reality behind closed doors was far from the idyll she thought her friend was living!

It’s when she receives an envelope in the mail, penned in a familiar hand and enclosing a key, that she begins to unlock the awful truths that have brought her to this point.

Innocently … subtly … insidiously … just like Jenna’s reality, this story creeps up on you and, while I initially had some difficulty with its structure, once I got to about a quarter of the way in and the pace picked up I knew where Kim Lock was taking me and it all began to make sense.

Through Jenna’s narrative, which is told in flash-backs, Kim has vividly captured the experience of abuse, the isolation and the seductive power of manipulation while through Fairlie’s we become privy to the close friendship she once shared with Jenna, the slow disintegration of that friendship and how she now feels as though she’s lost an important part of herself. Entwined within these two narratives though, through the letters that Jenna's mother wrote to her, is a quiet strand that only becomes more prominent when a clever little twist is revealed in the climax..

Unlike her first novel, Peace, Love and Khaki Socks (my review here), in Like I Can Love, Kim severely changes tack, venturing into darker territory where she explores not only domestic abuse in one of its most subtle forms along with the grief left in its wake but also unravels the relationships between mothers and daughters and the life-changing secrets we keep.

In this chilling tale of domestic noir, Kim captures the experience of abuse and manipulation, exposing the utter terror and shame of a victim and the pieces that those left behind have to pick up in order to make sense of it all.

Using Fairlie as her key, Like I Can Love is a poignant tale of truth, deception and love in all its forms, delivered by an author who knows how to pack a punch.

I wish to thank Pan MacMillan Australia for providing me with a hard copy for review.

About the Author

Kim Lock was born in 1981. She has worked around Australia as a graphic designer and volunteered as a breastfeeding counsellor.

Her non-fiction has appeared in The Guardian, Daily Life, and The Sydney Morning Herald online.

Kim's fiction explores the stories that shape people's lives, but that they hide from society.

Like I Can Love is her second novel and was released on the 22nd March 2016.

Kim lives in the Barossa Valley, South Australia, with her partner and their children, a dog and a couple of cats.


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