Philip Rochester leaves behind three (ex-)wives and one son. And.. indigestion. At least that is what Imogen, (ex-)wife in the middle, feels. When we go back 22 days before the funeral – no, a lifetime before – we slowly but surely understand who Philip Rochester was in Jo Jakeman’s gripping, shocking thriller with its dark humour, ‘Sticks and Stones.’
Imogen is glad to be rid of her husband even if he refuses to grant her a divorce but instead, wants to divorce her. Yes, his reputation means all to him. But Imogen will not leave the home she built for herself and their little son, Alistair. When she goes to confront her ex, Philip, at his home, he is not there. Naomi is, the third and latest one, the younger model Imogen was traded in for. Quite unexpectedly, Imogen recognises something in Naomi’s behaviour – a pattern she herself only knows too well. Could it be? Would Naomi be in the same position she once was?
When Philip visits Imogen, furious about her intrusion of his new home, things get out of hand. Seriously. So much that Imogen does something she would never have thought she was capable of. But this can never be undone and it changes everything. Life will never be the same again. What to do next? Time is of the essence, planning is crucial but then, quite unexpectedly, Naomi turns up at Imogen’s home…
What a thrilling and exciting debut novel this is! I love the title as it shows us how we are shaped by life itself and how platitudes are not only meaningless but also quite untrue. Words can hurt you – and, apart from physical abuse, they are Philip’s strongest weapon. At first, I wondered why you would start the book with Philip’s funeral and then go back and forth in time but in the end, I concluded it had to be because this story is not so much about the outcome but about the path to it Domestic abuse, violence, and most of all the deafening silence of not being heard, of not being able to share your story with anyone.
‘Sticks and Stones’ draws the reader into a fascinating journey to discover the truth, with new alliances being made but who can you trust when the puppet master is pulling all the strings? There are deceit and distrust, violence and appalling behaviour, there are twists and nailbiting scenes galore that I kept reminding myself of the contents of the first chapter to be able to read on!
I loved how the author portrayed her protagonists, Ruby, Imogen, and Naomi: strong women each with their own character, each using their own survival mechanism to cope. The character development is well-written (one thing could have been left out easily but I cannot say what – let’s just say that in my opinion, the journey the women take is captivating as it is) with that dark humour I love, and the plotline excellently crafted.
About the Author
Jo Jakeman was the winner of the Friday Night Live 2016 competition at the York Festival of Writing. Born in Cyprus, she worked for many years in the City of London before moving to Derbyshire with her husband and twin boys. ‘Sticks and Stones’ is her debut thriller.
Author website: www.jojakeman.com
Available at Amazon
|Publisher||Harvill Secker (12 July 2018)|