The Other Son is the bestselling novel by the British author Nick Alexander. If you are an avid reader then you are perhaps familiar with Nick Alexander. He has written a number of bestsellers, including The Photographer’s Wife, Things We Never Said, and You Then, Me Now. The Other Son was published in 2015, and it has been on my to-read list for some time now. Considering my lofty expectations, this book did not disappoint at all. I would like to thank NetGalley for my copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review.
I would like to start out my review of this book with a simple oh my god. This book is seriously fantastic. Now, let’s break it down (now y’all – so sorry, I couldn’t resist). Anyways…
First things first, the characters. The Other Son is very much a character-driven novel. That isn’t to say that it is lacking a plot, because that is very much not the case. But the characters are the real focus here. The story centres around Alice, her husband Ken, and her two sons Tim and Matt. The story starts out from Alice’s perspective, in the third person, and then it shifts so that we get to see what others think of Alice. We are given insight into Alice’s thought process as she does or says something, and then later get to see what other characters make of Alice’s behaviour. Perhaps this sounds a bit complex, but the way that the author does this is seamless. It comes across as natural; it is really well done. As I was reading this book I started to ask myself if I have seen this done before in the third person, and I don’t think I have. Or if I have, it wasn’t memorable.
The characters in this novel come across as so real. I feel that I could sit in a room with each and every one of them (although I certainly wouldn’t like all of them) and have a conversation. They each have their own unique voice; I never had to re-read a line to try to figure out who was talking (a pet peeve). This is all so essential in a character-focused work, because it is what keeps the reader interested.
That being said, the storyline is intense and emotional. It isn’t fast-paced, but I was riveted all the same. Expect to laugh, then cry, then laugh, then perhaps cry some more. You may even cheer at points (I know I did). However, please don’t read this review and then expect an action-packed thriller. The reason that the plot is so intense is because of the characters. The well-developed, phenomenally realistic characters. I apologise if I’m repeating myself, but I am honestly so excited by how much I loved this book. Nerd alert.
Alice has been lying to herself for years, holding fast to the belief that the needs of her family far outweigh her own. But her outwardly successful marriage hides dark secrets, and for much of her life, the children were the one reason she stuck around.
These days, though her successful banker son lives nearby, his young wife seems to do everything she can to keep Alice at bay. As for Alice’s other son, he has always been something of a stranger and has been traveling for so long that Alice isn’t even sure what continent he is on anymore.
Alice can’t help but wonder if the effort she expends presenting a united front to the outside world is actually helping anyone and what would happen if she suddenly stopped pretending. Could life, like the novels she devours, hold surprises in its closing chapters? And if she did shake everything up by admitting the truth about her marriage, would anyone be on her side? Has the time finally come for Alice to put her own needs first? For the first time in years, her heart is racing. Can Alice really change her life? Dare she even imagine such a thing?
Nick Alexander was born in the UK, and has lived in the USA and France. He has written a number of bestselling novels, including The Photographer’s Wife in 2014, The Other Son in 2015, Things We Never Said in 2017, and You Then, Me Now in 2019. He currently lives in France.
The Other Son is an excellent novel. It is perfect for fans of character-driven books. I loved it.
My rating: ★★★★★
Have you read this book? I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments below!
Waterstones (UK): here
Amazon (US): here
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