ShortBookandScribes #BookReview – Out of Her Depth by Lizzy Barber #BlogTour
It’s my stop on the blog tour for Out of Her Depth by Lizzy Barber. It’s also paperback publication day so congratulations Lizzy! My thanks to edpr for the place on the tour and for arranging my review copy from the publishers.
Out of her Depth by Lizzy Barber is out 28th April, published by Pan Macmillan in paperback, priced £8.99
A highly addictive thriller set in sun-drenched Tuscany, exploring toxic friendship, manipulation, seduction and desire.
“Before you judge me, remember this: a girl died, but it wasn’t my fault.”
Rachel, a sheltered eighteen-year-old from the suburbs, can’t believe her luck when she
lands a job at the Villa Medici, an elegant pensione in the lush hills beyond Florence, working alongside glamorous, privileged Diana. Beautiful and assured, the two are polar opposites and yet form an immediate and intense friendship with Diana drawing Rachel into her privileged circle, promising to help her win the affections of confident, handsome Sebastian. As the champagne flows and rivalries simmer in the Tuscan heat, Rachel realises Diana has motivations of her own. And when new girl, Valentina, comes to work at Villa Medici and forms an instant bond with Sebastian, tensions escalate. Adrift in an opuent world of ego, seduction and easy betrayal, the stakes rise until one night, someone dies.
Back in London, and after two decades of secrecy, Rachel must confront what happened in
Tuscany that summer night, and finally decide where her loyalties lie.
Twenty-one years ago, Rachel had a summer job at a stunning hotel in Italy. There she met Diana and Sebastian, much the same age as her but from a completely different background, one where spending daddy’s money and having no regard for anybody else is the order of the day. In alternating chapters we follow Rachel then, hurtling towards something that will change her life forever, and Rachel now, as the past catches up with her all over again.
The past offers a heady and intoxicating look at teenage privilege and jealousy in a beautiful setting. What should have been the experience of a lifetime for Rachel turned very sour indeed. There were no real surprises about what happened as it’s alluded to throughout, but we see the build up and the consequences of Rachel and her friends’ behaviour.
I particularly enjoyed the chapters set in the present day, even if I couldn’t bring myself to like Rachel, whose behaviour I felt was concerning. Despite having built a tentative new life for herself, it felt like she was just waiting for the events of the past to rear their ugly head again.
This is an intriguing and taut literary thriller. Not particularly fast-paced but with a simmering tension and an edgy feel to it. It was clear that the pressure cooker of teenage hormones was about to explode and take out somebody standing close to it. It’s a story of dangerous friendships, those ones where one person shines the brightest and the others stand in their shadow, and the treacherous path that being a follower can lead to.
Lizzy Barber’s critically acclaimed debut novel My Name is Anna (2019) won the Daily Mail First Novel Competition. She read English at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge and is Head of Brand and Marketing at the Hush Collection, a boutique group of restaurants. Lizzy has a lifelong love of Italy, spending childhood holidays on the Italian coast, and living in Florence, aged 18 to learn Italian. Lizzy returns to Tuscany every year and got married near Fiesole, where Villa Medici in the book is located. She always knew the shadowy streets and intense beauty were ripe for a thriller.