2017 Reviews · contemporary fiction · mystery · psychological

Book Review: Come Back to Me by Sara Foster

Title: Come Back to Mecome back to me 2.jpg

Author:  Sara Foster

Published: February 1st 2010

Publisher: Bantam, Random House (republished by Simon & Schuster July 2017)

Pages: 480

Genres:  Contemporary Fiction, Psychological, Mystery.

RRP: $14.99

Rating: 4.5 stars

Do you have to honour a promise you made in the past if it means losing all you have now?

When Mark introduces his date, Julia, to Chloe and her husband at a London restaurant, it’s obvious that something is very, very wrong. Alex and Julia pretend not to know one another, but the shocked expressions on their faces tell another story.

As the mystery of Julia’s identity unravels, a terrible tragedy from ten years ago gradually comes to light. While Chloe struggles with a secret of her own, Alex has to decide whether he should take Julia back to Australia to try to lay the past to rest, when doing so will risk all he has with the wife he loves.

And Julia must decide whether to finally confront Alex with the whole truth about what happened back then.

Set in London and Perth, Come Back to Me is a taut psychological drama that will keep you enthralled until the very last page.

My review:

Perth based British author Sara Foster has become one of my favourite writers, especially in the psychological mystery field. Come Back to Me is Foster’s debut novel and marks the third novel that I have read by this author. Shallow Breath, also written by Sara Foster, still remains close to my heart, a number of years after I finished this book. I have the feeling that Come Back to Me will also linger with me for some time.

Come Back to Me is a consuming psychological drama that splits its setting between London and Perth. A simple double dinner date opens up old wounds and buried secrets when Mark brings a date, Julia, to a London restaurant to meet his friends, Chloe and Alex. Immediately, it becomes obvious that Alex and Julia are uncomfortable in each other’s company. They clearly have a past history together which they refuse to divulge to their respective partners. Eventually, the truth surrounding Alex and Julia’s connection begins to emerge and a terrible event that occurred ten years ago is gradually revealed. It is a secret that will require Alex to join Julia, on the other side of the world, in Australia, to confront the past and lay some demons to rest. However, matters are complicated further when Alex’s current love, Chloe, hides a special secret of her own. This creates a new source of tension between Alex and Chloe. Alex is then torn between the woman he loves now and a woman he loved in his past. Come Back to Me is an involving story of love, loyalty, honouring promises, secrets and revelations.

Sara Foster is talented author, who is adept in creating stories with a strong grounding in the psychological mystery genres. She is unafraid of delving into complicated situations that arise in our everyday lives. A brave task for an author, especially as Come Back to Me is Foster’s first published novel. Come Back to Me is a stimulating and addictive read that I was hard pressed to put down. In fact, I recall reading this book in two back to back sittings. This signals my obvious enjoyment of this story.

Foster’s characters are full-bodied and complex. These characters have many secrets to unravel, which encourages the reader to stay with the novel. There are some interesting relationship dynamics and emotions that emerge from Come Back to Me. I loved the shroud of secrecy that engulfed the main character of Julia. Her journey in particular was a harrowing one that submerged me in a mixture of feelings from sadness, to shock and deep admiration. In fact, there were a number of times where Julia’s harrowing attack in Perth reminded me of British backpacker Joanne Lees terrifying experience in the outback in 2001, where she and her boyfriend Peter Falconio were set upon by a crazed gunman.  There are obvious links between this real life case and Foster’s fictional character Julia’s ordeal.  These passages were handled with great care and insight by the accomplished hand of Sara Foster. Alex, Julia’s boyfriend at the time of her attack in Perth, was a protagonist I held much sympathy for. I could see how conflicted he must have felt between having to choose to between his current love and a past love that he made a lasting promise to. My only real issue with the character set in Come Back to Me was the lack of communication or lost opportunities to engage in vital conversations that occurred during the novel. Many of the complications in the story could have been prevented or solved earlier if these characters had of spoke up, instead of burying or avoiding the truth. These frustrations aside, overall the characterisation in Come Back to Me is of a high standard.

What I loved about Come Back to Me was flashback style of narrative employed by Foster. I also appreciated the alternating setting (London and Perth). This novel also moves in time, from the past in Australia, to ten years later in London. Both settings are described in plenty of detail, so much so that you feel like you are stepping on the bustling footpaths of London and then on golden sands of isolated Perth. The transitions in location and time were seamless. I am familiar with both these locations and genuinely feel Foster did a good job of bringing these two contrasted settings to life for the reader.

Come Back to Me is a psychological based mystery novel that serves to remind that often our pasts and the promises we made in times gone by, will eventually catch up with us. It is about working to right past wrongs, despite how painful the process may be. Going back to the where Sara Foster’s successful writing career started, by reading her debut novel, Come Back to Me, was a rewarding experience. Come Back to Me is a novel I highly commend.

Come Back to Me by Sara Foster was published in February 2010 by Bantam, Random House. In July 2017, Simon & Schuster republished Come Back to Me. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

Learn more about the author of Come Back to Me, Sara Foster here.

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