Hello everyone, and welcome back to The Bookworm’s Fantasy! I hope you’re all doing well. Today I’m going to be posting my review of Gillian McAllister’s exceptional debut novel, ‘Everything But The Truth’. I absolutely adored this novel, so much so that it’s going straight on my “favourites” shelf! So, keep reading to discover my thoughts…
Do you ever check your partner’s phone?
Are you prepared for the consequences?
It all started with the email.
Rachel didn’t even mean to look. She loves Jack and she’s pregnant with their child. She trusts him.
But now she’s seen it, she can’t undo that moment. Or the chain of events it has set in motion.
Why has Jack been lying about his past? Just what exactly is he hiding? And doesn’t Rachel have a right to know the truth at any cost?
** TRIGGER WARNING ** Contains references to a gun crime. Also portrays the theme of terminal illnesses in some detail. Contains references to mental illness and suicide.
‘Everything But The Truth’ was released in March 2017, and is McAllister’s debut novel. Her second novel, ‘Anything You Do Say’, is due to be released in early 2018. ‘Everything But The Truth’ was an instant success and is a Sunday Times Top Ten bestseller. McAllister lives in Birmingham with her boyfriend, and also works as a lawyer.
The novel received much positive praise. For example, Hello stated “Gillian’s gripping debut novel is packed with twists and turns”, Heat labelled it “Twisty and emotionally charged”, and Good Housekeeping called it “Gripping from start to finish.” So many fellow authors praised the novel (many of which I love), such as Clare Mackintosh: “Perfection. Intriguing and compelling. An exceptional debut;” Paula Daly: “Tense and compelling;” Hollie Overton: “You won’t be able to put it down;” Jenny Blackhurst: “Addictive – I found myself wanting to pick it up at every opportunity;” and Elizabeth Haynes: “This is a book to devour.”
‘Everything But The Truth’ follows the lives of couple Rachel and Jack, after Rachel checks Jack’s emails and makes a shocking discovery. She’s pregnant with his child, but realises she doesn’t and never really did know the man sitting next to her – and she can’t trust him either. Will Rachel discover all of Jack’s secrets? And will she find the courage to tell Jack about the skeletons in her own closet?
The narrative jumps in time from the present day to the past (one year ago), and is told in Rachel’s first person narrative voice throughout. The present day narrative gives us an insight into Rachel and Jack’s present life, as Rachel works to uncover Jack’s dirty secret. And the past flashback narrative gives us snippets of Rachel’s own secret, or “mistake”.
Rachel is definitely the newest addition to my all-time favourite characters. There’s a lot of her qualities which I could really relate to, and I found myself feeling a wide array of emotions towards her character. Rachel has just discovered something that will turn her entire life upside down, and she becomes paranoid, obsessive and irrational in her search for the truth. She goes to extreme lengths to find out all the details of Jack’s secret, and makes snap decisions that often result in destruction and despair. But I found myself thinking – would I really act any differently if I was in her position? She really provoked an emotional response from me, which is a benefit that, in my opinion, only certain skilled writers are able to achieve.
The reader is initially provoked to feel anger towards Jack. He repeatedly lies and betrays his pregnant wife, causing her undue stress and negative emotions at an already vulnerable time in her life. She gives him so many chances to tell her the truth, and he continues to lie each and every time. However, there is much more to Jack’s character than first meets the eye. There are two sides to each character, and Jack’s side is fascinating and enlightening. The portrayal of Jack’s character really threw some important moral questions into the mix, and I really appreciated that.
Other minor characters present in the novel include: Audrey (Rachel’s best friend), Kate and Mez (Rachel’s sister and partner), Rachel’s father, Davey (Jack’s disabled brother), Jack’s parents and various other friends. We also are told a lot about Rachel’s relationship with her ex-boyfriend Ben, and how she feels she ruined their relationship and is scared that she will ruin her present relationship with Jack.
** TRIGGER WARNING ** (I apologise for any spoilers here.) The novel builds up to a violent past crime committed by Jack and the moral questions surrounding that. The novel also addresses the theme of terminal illness at some length, particularly cancer. If cancer or terminal illness is a fresh or particularly difficult issue for you to read about, I would suggest you skip this novel. Also, a harrowing scene of suicide is included in the novel. Again, if this is a triggering issue for you, I would urge you to skip this book.
Both the past and present narrative motor forwards and eventually collide towards the end of the book. In the past narrative, more and more is revealed about the disastrous mistake that Rachel made, and how it has affected her in multiple ways. In the present, we see Rachel and Jack’s relationship pushed to it’s limits, as Rachel digs up all the evidence she can to find out what happened on that fateful night for Jack.
So, let’s talk about the ending. In the dramatic end scene, we find out exactly what happened to Jack that night. Jack finally comes clean and tells Rachel everything she needs to know, and Rachel must decide what the best course of action is for her and her unborn child. The revelation is shocking and sad, and also poses an important moral question: Can we ever truly be cut free from our past? Or will our past mistakes always be there to haunt us? I was pleased with the ending due to the aura of ambiguity created, and the reader cannot be sure what will happen to the characters in the future.
Overall, this Psychological/Domestic Thriller is the perfect read for those of you who enjoy reading about secrets and betrayals. It’s more of a slow-burner rather than an action-packed Thriller, and it really does pose some important thought-provoking questions along the way. Personally, I couldn’t fault the book, and it’s going straight on my “favourites” shelf! I promise you won’t be disappointed if you pick up this book. A fantastic read!
Happy reading 🙂