About the Book
‘Have you met them yet, the new couple?’
When Gav and Lou move into the house next door, Sara spends days plucking up courage to say hello. The neighbours are glamorous, chaotic and just a little eccentric. They make the rest of Sara’s street seem dull by comparison.
When the hand of friendship is extended, Sara is delighted and flattered. Incredibly, Gav and Lou seem to see something in Sara and Neil that they admire too. In no time at all, the two couples are soulmates, sharing suppers, bottles of red wine and childcare, laughing and trading stories and secrets late into the night in one another’s houses.
And the more time Sara spends with Gav and Lou, the more she longs to make changes in her own life. But those changes will come at a price. Soon Gav and Lou will be asking things they’ve no right to ask of their neighbours, with shattering consequences for all of them…
Have you met The People at Number 9? A dark and delicious novel about envy, longing and betrayal in the suburbs…
This book intrigued me from the moment I first saw the cover and I simply had to read it. I love books about neighbours and the things that can go wrong between people who live next door to each other. I think it’s because we all have neighbours and they can be varying degrees of nice or nosey or rude – The People at Number 9 takes the idea of envy and ramps it up to make a brilliant read.
This book is centred around two couples – Sara and Neil, and the family who move in next door – Lou and Gav. Sara is the most intriguing character for me because initially she invites Lou in and seems perturbed that Lou doesn’t openly admire her kitchen, when most people do. I immediately thought I knew exactly the type of person she was but it quickly becomes apparent that Sara is more the kind of person that just wants to be accepted and admired. She is very drawn to Lou and to Gav and increasingly wants to be more like them. I couldn’t make my mind up whether Sara was easily led a lot of the time or whether she was one of those people who has somehow never really formed a sense of who she is and so latches on to whoever she’s around.
Sara becomes fixated with people very easily and doesn’t seem to let go. There is a moment where she talks about her first crush but rather than it being a moment of reminiscing it seems she’s still holds tightly to the memory and the wish that she had done things differently.
Gav and Lou seem to be the opposite type of people to Sara and Neil – they are bohemian in their lifestyle and very laid back. They have chilled out parties in their home, and they don’t worry that the decor isn’t super modern. Sara seems enthralled by them from the off. Lou and Gave seem quite lax about their children, which concerns Sara, leading her to step in to help.
Lou seems happy to have Sara be her new best friend, and as time moves on I started to feel that Lou was taking advantage of Sara’s good nature but at the same time I was uneasy about Sara – it also felt like she was pushing herself into Lou’s life as much as she could. It did feel like Gav and Lou were quietly mocking Sara for wanting to be like them whilst being perfectly happy to let her run around after their children.
It fascinated me noticing how Sara begins to talk more like Gav and Lou, she begins to feel jealous of their other friends and it’s like she believes she has a monopoly on them. Neil is in the background in this novel but gradually he seems to become more transfixed by the new neighbours too, and also a bit bemused by his wife’s behaviour and new attitude to things. It felt like we, the reader, could see an overview of the lives of these characters but the characters themselves were so enmeshed in their world that they could only see the tiny details. As the tension in the book builds it felt like I was watching a car crash in very slow motion, and I was powerless to look away as I read on to see if my suspicions would be proved correct.
This is one of those books where none of the characters are particularly likeable, and yet you find yourself drawn to them and you want to know more. This is a novel that is so much about envying what others have, about being insecure in your own skin, about being caught up in the new and shiny and forgetting about all the good that was already there. This book takes things to a level that wouldn’t happen to most people but it remains grounded in reality. I’m sure everyone who reads this book will see elements of people they know in these characters.
The People at Number 9 is quite a slow-burn novel and yet it feels fast-paced at the same time – I read it in two sittings as I didn’t want to put it down. It’s not an edge-of-your-seat thriller but there is a real undercurrent of uneasiness that runs throughout this novel. I loved this book and definitely recommend it.
The People at Number 9 is out now.
I received a copy of this book from HQ Stories via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author
Felicity Everett grew up in Manchester and attended Sussex University. After an early career in children’s publishing and freelance writing, which produced more than twenty-five works of children’s fiction and non-fiction, Felicity’s debut adult novel The Story of Us was published by Random House in 2011. She lives in Melbourne, Australia with her family.