Author : Charlotte Duckworth
Title : The Rival
Pages : 400
Publisher : Quercus
Publication date : September 1, 2018 (ebook)
Living in her home in the countryside Helena is a career woman without a job and a mother without a baby. She blames Ashley for destroying her life. But is what happened really Ashley’s fault?
When Helena hires Ashley to work with her, she’s startled but impressed by her fierce ambition. They form a dream team and Helena is proud – maybe this is the protégé she’s always wanted to have? But soon Helena realises that nothing will stand in the way of Ashley’s drive to get to the top. And when Helena discovers she is pregnant, she quickly realises how vulnerable her position is, with devastating consequences.
When I picked up The Rival I was in the most grumpy mood. I’d had little sleep the night before, my day had been turned upside down by interruptions and distractions and I had a headache. All this meant it took me five hours to read a mere 50 pages. Why am I telling you this, you wonder? Because that extremely grumpy mood only became worse the second I was introduced to Ashley and I’m still not entirely sure if my dislike of her was something the author meant to happen or if I was in the wrong state of mind to form a fair opinion of her.
We meet Ashley on her first day at a new job for a make-up company. It’s obvious from the start that she is a fiercely ambitious young woman. She knows what she wants and she’ll do whatever it takes to get it. Nothing wrong with that. But she also comes across as a bit sneaky, devious, selfish and slightly ruthless. Or does she? Her boss, Helena, initially enjoys working with her. But she soon realises Ashley will stop at nothing to succeed. And when Helena falls pregnant, things take a turn for the worse.
It’s no secret that something happens between these two women. Helena blames Ashley for ruining her life, for being a career woman without a job and a mother without a baby. But what exactly happened? Is Ashley truly to blame?
The Rival is told in three parts, from two points of view and switching back between the past and the present. This works incredibly well and I was trying ridiculously hard to pick up clues and unravel the mystery. But I wasn’t at all prepared for the way events ultimately unfolded and it left me reeling, questioning everything, feeling I’d misjudged some things along the way.
This story of female ambition and rivalry is well-paced and although I wouldn’t call it particularly tense, it is full of intrigue and suspense and part three had me flipping the pages faster and faster. It completely made me forget how tired and grumpy I felt and I was determined to finish it before bedtime. Sure, maybe Ashley has the rather typical background to explain why she is the way she is but that didn’t really bother me.
I think this a cracking debut by Charlotte Duckworth and I loved how it combined a psychologic thriller feel with the challenges of pregnancy and motherhood. I thoroughly enjoyed this one and very much look forward to what this author comes up with next.
The Rival is available to buy!