After Leaving The Village

by Helen Matthews

After Leaving The Village

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Synopsis

Two women. Two villages. Different destinies. Odeta's life has shrunk to a daily round of drudgery, running her father's grocery store in a remote Albanian village. One day a stranger from Tirana walks into the shop and promises her a new career in London. Odeta's life is about to change, but not in the way she expected. Journalist Kate lives on a quiet London street and seems to have a perfect life but she worries about her son Ben, who struggles to make friends. Kate blames the internet and disconnects her family from the online world so they can get to know their neighbours. On a visit to her home village in Wales, Kate is forced to confront a secret from her past. But greater danger lies closer to home. Perhaps Kate's neighbours are not the friendly community they seem.

Book Info

Author: Helen Matthews

Title: After Leaving The Village
ISBN: 9780995780682
Publication Date: 12-10-2017
Publisher: Hashtag Press
Genre: Thriller/Suspense
Format: epub
Reviewer Rating:
3 rating(s)

Reviewer Feedback

profile pic Anthea Barrett 
Added: 12-08-2018
An absorbing and gripping read.

I thoroughly enjoyed After Leaving The Village and found myself engaged from the very beginning. The story starts with Odeta, a young Albanian teenager, desperate to leave her small village and the drudgery of working in her family’s shop. She is lured away to London by the charismatic Kreshnik, who promises work in his family’s clothing business. The fact that we know where this is heading adds to the feeling of doom that surrounds the naive Odeta. When Kate is introduced, living next door to where Odeta is kept prisoner, it provides a welcome relief from the grim reality of Odeta’s existence. Kate is new to her neighbourhood and plans a party so she can get to know her neighbours to start building a community around her and her family. There are signs of discord in her family as she and her husband differ in their approach to their son, whom we assume to be on the Autism Spectrum. There are also clashes between Kate and her husband concerning her work as a journalist and her plan to take her whole family offline for a series of articles she is pitching to her editor.

The story continues, alternating between the two women’s lives, which we expect will collide at some point. The contrast between their lives couldn’t be greater, and yet they share common origins as they both come from small villages. The anticipation of their meeting develops cleverly and increases the tension, which builds to a climax which is exciting and well crafted. I found myself wanting to yell “Come on!” I was tempted to skim and rush ahead to see what happened, but forced myself to read every word and it was well worth it. I didn’t want to put this book down - I was so absorbed in it. It is extremely well written, with the characters well observed and believable. The only slightly off note was a detail in Kate’s back story about a car accident, which felt redundant and like a distraction to me. I assume this was included to flesh out her character, but I didn’t think it necessary.

Overall I thought this was a skillfully written, thought provoking book which tackled the difficult subject of human trafficking. I was initially doubtful about it, as I thought it might be too depressing and hard to read. However, the author balanced the horror of Odeta’ s imprisonment and slavery, with the more mundane and relatable troubles experienced by Kate. The way she brought them together left the reader with a feeling of hope. The message that I took away from this book is the importance of community. I thoroughly recommend this book and I really look forward to reading more of Helen Matthews’ writing in the future.

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