REVIEWED BY KAREN BYROM
A compelling story of damaged love
To the world he’s the perfect man – a rich successful lawyer with a beautiful wife and teenage son. But behind the closed doors of their family home it’s a different story. Nathan Cardew keeps his wife Hannah on a very short leash!
She has no job, no money of her own – and has to account for every single penny of what he gives her. She has no friends but one, whom she has to meet secretly. Nathan tells her how to dress, how to behave, and expects sex on demand.
How does Nathan exert such control over Hannah’s life? Why does she not just leave and take their son Alex with her. He is fifteen now, and aware of the damage his father is doing to their mother. Even he can’t understand why she stays with him.
Past tragedy has shaped their lives
For the answer, we have to go back to the past, when Nathan and Hannah were young adults living in the same small Devonshire fishing village. Gradually, the story of a twisted love triangle emerges, one that leads to a terrible tragedy on the night of a storm, and the loss from her life of Hannah’s first and only true love, fisherman, Cam. Whatever happened that night has given Nathan a hold over Hannah.
It’s a secret so terrible she hasn’t even confided it to her one friend, Vicky. But now Alex is old enough to start asking questions, he sets in chain a catalyst of events that will lead to a second, metaphorical storm in Hannah’s life – will this one break her altogether or finally set her free?
This powerful story had me gripped right from the start! The subject of coercive control is topical and compelling, and Amanda Jennings handles it very well. Her portrayal of Nathan and Hannah helps us to see how a woman can lose her sense of identity and self-worth, and even how a man can truly believe that his behaviour stems from love, not cruelty. Nathan’s delusion is as excruciating as Hannah’s pain – one can almost (but not quite) feel sorry for him.
Behind the theme of coercive control lies a tragic event that lends an extra layer of suspense to the narrative, along with a compelling love story that we know from the start ended in heartbreak. We see these long ago events through the perspective of Hannah, Nathan and Cam – each had his or her part to play in the storm that engulfed their lives… but who carries the heaviest burden of guilt?
A tightly woven, well-crafted plot that gradually reveals the past while resolving the present, empathetic, convincing characters and atmospheric prose all make The Storm a stand-out read!
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