Review of ‘The Heights’ by Louise Candlish

A complex and emotional drama which I had mixed feelings about. I wasn’t planning to read any more of Louise Candlish’s books after being disappointed with Our House but I’ve been seeing The Heights everywhere so I decided to give her another chance.

The story is about a well-heeled middle-class London family who are devastated by the loss of their son. The protagonist, Ellen, is convinced that it wasn’t an accident and directs her anger towards the other boy involved, who is from a disadvantaged background. She’s prepared to commit a crime to see justice done.

One interesting point in this book is the perspective. Ellen is writing a book about what happened and occasionally appealing to the reader, trying to justify her actions and getting us on her side. The chapters are interspersed with journalism extracts from an article written about her.

I was intrigued by the premise and quickly got through the book until the halfway point… when I found the pace dragging and there was too much detail about the characters’ careers. I wouldn’t call this book a thriller. There was nothing thrilling about it. There were few twists. I became bored with it and puzzled about the hype. Certainly it’s a sophisticated book, well-structured and with attention to detail. As a study of what grief will lead people to do, it’s commendable. I just felt that it didn’t match the ‘nail-biting’ ‘edge-of-your-seat thriller’ marketing.

Why do the middle-aged characters all use the word ‘gen’ (as in ‘generation’)? I’ve never heard anyone say that without appending a Z or other letter to it. Another odd thing is the use of American educational terms such as freshman and kindergarten. I wouldn’t expect to find those in a book set in Britain.

Published in 2021.

5 thoughts on “Review of ‘The Heights’ by Louise Candlish”

  1. I’ve read one of Louises books and wasn’t overly impressed. Can’t remember which one, which says a lot! Not sure why there’s so much hype. She’s what I call a ‘throwaway thriller’ writer, in that it goes straight on the charity bag or stays at the hotel once finished. If finished that is 😆

    1. LOL ‘throwaway thriller’ – a bit harsh 😀 I think her books certainly have more detail in them with more sophistication than your average thriller but now that I’ve read 2 I know she’s not for me. I borrowed it from the library so no throwing away involved!

  2. Never read a book by her before but not overly sure I would at the moment. Great review, I don’t like American terms used in British novels either or books based in Britain, unless of course it’s an Americal family staying in Britain then it could be forgiven.

    1. Thanks 🙂 I am not sure if the American terms are to make the book more understandable for American readers or whether the terms are actually used by posh Londoners now for some reason (I wouldn’t know!)

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