It’s a happy publication day to Agatha Zaza and her debut The Pretenders! I’m joining the blog tour today, with thanks to Peyton at Agora Books for the invitation and the proof copy.
Author : Agatha Zaza
Title : The Pretenders
Pages : 288
Publisher : Agora Books
Publication date : November 5, 2020
| ABOUT THE BOOK |
Jasper is ready to surprise his brother; Holly is ready to celebrate their engagement.
Anne tags along for fear of missing out, and John might just be going for another drink.
But Edmund and Ovidia had other plans for their Saturday.
Over the course of one day, these couples must own up to the secrets they’ve been hiding from one another and the lies they’ve been telling themselves. And face the devastating consequences.
Three couples. Two exes. One day. One reckoning.
| MY THOUGHTS |
“I’m perfectly happy lying to myself … if it means getting to stay with you.“
The Pretenders is a well-plotted character-driven story about the ways people often fool others but also themselves.
It’s also a remarkably difficult novel to review without giving anything away. Three couples share an extraordinarily uncomfortable day with each other and the reader is right there with them. Or at least, that’s what it felt like to me. Like I had an extra seat at the table and I was right there in the thick of things, sipping my wine and wondering what the heck was going on. Because it’s incredibly obvious something is.
Jasper and Holly just got engaged. Happy times! They’ve been celebrating with their friends John and Anne. Now, Jasper is taking his little bubble of four to visit his older brother, Edward. But Edward and Ovidia had very different plans today. Throughout the day, these three couples must own up to secrets they’ve been hiding from each other and lies they’ve been telling themselves and ultimately face the consequences.
Those lies and secrets are revealed bit by bit throughout the story. Some by way of flashbacks, some in the present day. Each reveal seemed to pack an even bigger punch than the previous one and there were moments where I was left reeling. I may have spent a good half of the book frowning and wondering and desperately trying to figure out the ins and outs of these characters because, good grief, are they intriguing! And when things finally came together, … well, let’s just say, I wasn’t at all prepared for how dark this story would become.
Even though you might think so from the book description, this isn’t an action-packed, twists-per-second psychological thriller so don’t go into it expecting that. The Pretenders is very much a slow-burn of a novel, more domestic drama than anything else. It’s focused entirely on the characters and their motivations. Agatha Zaza really takes her time with them and so creates a fascinating depth to them, while also tackling a number of important topics that I won’t mention here at all because it’ll spoil things.
The Pretenders is a thoroughly impressive debut by Agatha Zaza. It’s one of those stories that gets under your skin, one you want to talk to people about and definitely one that will stay with me for quite some time.
The Pretenders is out today!
| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |
Agatha Zaza is a Zambian and Finn at present living in Auckland, New Zealand. Her writing is a departure from her work in fundraising and international development.
The Pretenders was born in Singapore, where she spent three years as a trailing spouse, where she rekindled a long-dormant love of writing. Aside from Singapore, Agatha has worked and lived several countries, among them Uganda and in the then Soviet Union. While in Ireland, she earned a Master’s in Equality Studies from University College Dublin and worked in a genuine Irish pub.
Agatha’s work can be seen in the Johannesburg Review of Books and in a PEN International special edition on African writers. She has also published three short books on Amazon. She’s been a passionate slow runner for two and half decades and has recently given up composting.