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Book DetailsISBN: 9781760854232
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Book Review: The Swap by Robyn Harding - Reviewed by CloggieA (05 Jul 2020)
5 stars The Swap is the fourth novel by Canadian author, Robyn Harding. Stuck out on an isolated island in the Pacific North-west of the continent, seventeen-year-old Low Morrison is smart, but friendless and bored, so when beautiful, charismatic Freya Light turns up at her high school offering pottery classes, Low is immediately drawn in. Low’s family life is unconventional, with parents, lovers and children openly cohabiting: Low craves normal, craves acceptance, and Freya embodies that.
Freya had transformed her social media influencer status into a lucrative concern until it all turned to dust when her gorgeous ice-hockey player husband, Maxime Beausoleil ruined it by aggressively overreacting to an illegal hit. Now they are exiled in Hawking and Freya seems grateful for Low’s company. Low revels in her crush, delusional in her adulation, until she is suddenly dropped for a new friend: Jamie Vincent.
Jamie and her husband are newcomers too: Brian a teacher turned YA fantasy writer while Jamie runs a gift shop that stocks Freya’s pottery. The couples hit it off, and one night, after some assisted merriment, the partners swap, unaware they are being observed, and wholly naïve of the far-reaching consequences of their behaviour.
Harding uses four narrators who describe what happened from different perspectives, with the benefit of hindsight. For the reader, it quickly becomes clear that Freya is a psychopath, using her allure to manipulate, targeting the vulnerable, the needy, and setting them up to compete for her attention.
Even when reality dawns, when faced with clear evidence of outright lies, those deceived by Freya make excuses for her, unable to break the strength of her spell: “I considered editing Freya out of my life, too. It was what Brian wanted – not that he’d said so specifically. But I had to agree that ending my friendship with my husband’s lover, who was also my lover’s wife, would make things a hell of a lot simpler. But I couldn’t let Freya go.”
Harding’s fourth novel is deliciously dark in places, with turns in the plot that even the most astute reader will not predict. She paints a vivid picture, fascinating to watch, of a woman who is able to turn every situation to serve her, fostering insecurity when it suits her, grooming those around her into facilitators and acolytes. All this with an underlying black humour that will have readers (perhaps involuntarily) laughing out loud. Utterly brilliant!! This unbiased review is from a copy provided by Simon & Schuster Australia.
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