By the time you read this, I’ll have killed one of your husbands.
In an isolated retreat, deep in the Northumbria moors, three women arrive for a weekend getaway.
Their husbands will be joining them in the morning. Or so they think.
But when they get to Dark Fell Barn, the women find a devastating note that claims one of their husbands has been murdered. Their phones are out of range. There’s no internet. They’re stranded. And a storm’s coming in.
Friendships fracture and the situation spins out of control as each wife tries to find out what’s going on, who is responsible and which husband has been targeted.
This was a tight-knit group. They’ve survived a lot. But they won’t weather this. Because someone has decided that enough is enough.
That it’s time for a reckoning.
I was given an Advance Reader Copy of The Long Weekend by the publisher, Random House UK, in exchange for an honest review. The fact I received a free copy of the book hasn’t impacted my review in any way, but thank you for sending me a copy and I hope you find my review acceptable.
The Long Weekend follows the story of three couples and the traumatic events they endure whilst isolated at a holiday barn on desolate Northumbria. When the wives of the couples arrive, they receive a letter – its intentions sinister. Instead of the idyllic country escape, they’re imagining, they’re faced with uncertainty and a rising sense of panic.
The Long Weekend took a good while to get going and I admit, I struggled with it initially. In the early pages of the novel it felt like the three female characters, Jayne, Emily and Ruth blurred together. I figured out partway through this was intentional as a means to keep the reader guessing who was responsible for setting the letter, but I found it rather off-putting and it came at the detriment to the rest of the first half of the novel. However, when the characters were more established, their individual quirks and motivations revealed, the story and characters, became much easier to read and understand.
There is something addictively captivating about the female lead characters; their individual personalities and motivations do set them apart from one another; once over the hurdle of initial confusion. Emily is the youngest and newest member of the group and has a troubled past; but tries her best to fit in despite her immaturity. Ruth is a new mother and struggling to juggle parenthood and her full-time career. Jayne is ex-military with her own personal traumas. Each of these characters, and their partners, are interesting in many ways, but I don’t feel like I connected with any of them; I felt that there was something lacking in the way they were written. Something that didn’t make me care too deeply about their current or past traumas – possibly it was in their strangely unrealistic reactions to what was going on around them. They tended to run around helplessly while events were unfolding around them and relied too much on being rescued by their missing husbands.
There is another character, Edie, that is missing from the holiday. The author of the letter. When thinking about this character and the lack of realism attributed to them, she is the one I struggled with the most. She is praised as being highly attractive, physically and charismatically, a practical joker and the glue that holds the group of friends (The wives husbands) together, and yet, it feels like the fighting to gain her favour would be something that would drive people apart with jealousy or frustration. I failed to see the appeal in her and as such the rest of the novel crumbled without the solid foundations. Obsessed with Edie are the husbands of the women who have arrived a day early at their holiday retreat. One of them – a character barely present in the novel – won her over, leaving the rest of the men to ‘look after’ Edie and her daughter Imogen, despite all being married to other women; these women have their individual thoughts on this, but most just accept it because their husbands and Edie have been friends a long time – it struck me as a bit contrite and an odd arrangement.
I enjoyed the narrative of The Long Weekend and found the various twists and turns in the plot thrilling – and there is enough to keep the reader guessing for the vast majority of the story. I found myself trying to figure out who was orchestrating the events and found my thoughts scuppered more than once; it has all the wonderful elements that make up a good thriller.
The Long Weekend is one of those ‘middle of the road’ sort of books that wasn’t bad but wasn’t anything overly groundbreaking either. It starts off slowly and takes a long time for any true comprehension of the plot and characters to embed. The book picks up in pace once the ‘frantic panic’ of the holiday retreat is over and the wives have returned home, but I can see many-a-reader giving up before this section is reached. Overall, I found there was something lacking in the first section of the book. It felt more like a teen-style horror movie, where the characters don’t make rational choices and all end up doing equally stupid things; it made me lose any measure of respect for the characters, which made for difficult engagement as the story progressed.
Not my favorite read of the year, but not one that I am having deep regrets over either. A middle-of-the-road sort of book in which characters start of muddled but become more engaging after some time investment. A thrilling story full of twists and turns, but there are some fundamental elements to the characters and their actions that didn’t resonate or ring true.