Touchstone | July 2015 | 304 pgs
Source: Library

Ninety-year-old Margaret Riley lives by herself in a secluded small town on a mountain in Tennessee. Although she feels lonely at times, she seeks comfort in her mystery books until she finds a woman moving into the long-empty house across the pond. 

Jennifer Young is on the run from her old life and together with her four-year-old son Milo, they take refuge in a quiet town so she could get on with her new identity and a new beginning. She is reserved and mysterious to the residents and soon she catches Margaret's attention simply because she has occupied the house of a woman named Barbara, who was about Margaret's age and they used to talk sometimes. Acting like a sleuth herself, Margaret sets on befriending the younger woman by hiring her as her massage therapist, hoping that as the days go by Jennifer would open up and tell her her story. But Jennifer isn't keen to talk about herself or her family, thus in order to get Jennifer's attention so that she would keep coming to her house, Margaret decides to tell Jennifer her story when she was a nurse with the Army Nurse Corps during World War II as well as her friendship with a fellow nurse named Kay. Margaret has never told anyone about her story, because it consists of a secret she wouldn't even think of herself. As if that isn't enough, Margaret begins to seek out someone from Jennifer's past to learn of her history that would lead to some consequences both of them couldn't imagine. 

The New Neighbor may sound like a mystery novel but basically it is a story surrounding two women and their secrets as well as their different views being on their own. For Margaret, years of loneliness and curiosity has drove her into finding a friendship in Jennifer but that persistence has led to an obsession. As for Jennifer, her needs for isolation became an impossible task as she soon realises that the basic needs to socialise with people and to hunt for a job are both essential if she is to survive in a new environment. In a nutshell, Margaret and Jennifer seek each other out for different reasons and this is where the story begins to unfold. 

This story was beautifully written and was a little suspenseful in a way, but not in the form of a psychological thriller. In fact I'd say this is more of a literary fiction with a sense of melancholy. I can't say I loved the story but the author has a way with words and the story did make me feel for Margaret and Jennifer; thus overall it was a satisfying read. 

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10 Responses
  1. Jenny Says:

    Hmm it does sound like it's supposed to be a suspense. Good to know it's not.

  2. Lark Says:

    At least you didn't end up hating the characters!

  3. Melody Says:

    Jenny - There's a bit of the suspense factor though it wasn't really what I'd expected. Still it wasn't a bad read.

  4. Melody Says:

    Lark - I'd say I sympathised them more than I hate them.

  5. jenclair Says:

    I think this one sounds interesting, but I'm not sure I'm in the mood for melancholy right now. It does sound more psychological than thriller, and so I will be keeping it in mind.

    Looking forward to your letter :)

  6. Melody Says:

    Jenclair - Although it wasn't quite what I expected, it was still an interesting read. Margaret's account of her job as a nurse during WWII was the most intriguing part in this story, but so does Jennifer's past. :)

  7. Iliana Says:

    Oh this is not what I was expecting from the title and cover which make it seem very much like a thriller. But, I'm intrigued!

  8. Melody Says:

    Iliana - Yes, the cover and the title can be misleading, right? Still, I quite enjoyed this one, though a different read.

  9. As others have said, I wouldn't have guessed what this one is about--but I have to say, I'm even more drawn to it than I was before. This sounds like something I would enjoy, especially with the WWII tie in.

    Thank you for your great review, Melody!

  10. Melody Says:

    Wendy - The WWII aspect does add more intrigue to the story. I think you might like this one, Wendy.

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