Review: A Tidy Ending by Joanna Cannon

About this book

(from Jonathan Ball Publishers)

‘A compellingly crafted, darkly funny and compulsive read, full of twists – and twists on twists – that keeps you guessing until the last page… a joy and a triumph’ Rachel Joyce


Linda has lived around here ever since she fled the dark events of her childhood in Wales. Now she sits in her kitchen, wondering if this is all there is – pushing the Hoover round and cooking fish fingers for tea is a far cry from the glamorous lifestyle she sees in the glossy catalogues coming through the door for the house’s previous occupant.


Terry isn’t perfect – he picks his teeth, tracks dirt through the house and spends most of his time in front of the TV. But that seems fairly standard – until he starts keeping odd hours at work, at around the same time young women start to go missing in the neighbourhood.


If Linda could just track down Rebecca, who lived in the house before them, maybe some of that perfection would rub off on her. But the grass isn’t always greener: you can’t change who you really are, and there’s something nasty lurking behind the net curtains on Cavendish Avenue…


My Thoughts:

The first thing that I must mention is that the cover art is quite deceiving. Bright, colourful, birds and flowers! Looks like a country-side cozy mystery or even romance novel, don’t you agree? Only afterwards you recognise that some of the elements are present in the story, but not as one maybe expects. It is just a hint of what’s to come, that things aren’t always what it seems to be at first glance.

“A Tidy Ending” is mainly set in a quiet estate and suburb in Yorkshire.  The main character, Linda, is indeed a very interesting woman. Because the story is told only from Linda’s point of view, we get into her state of mind and way of thinking right from the start. She is socially awkward, naïve and don’t have a lot of friends. In many ways, she reminded me of Molly in Nita Prose’s “The Maid”. The OCD, the quirky observations of human interactions, the misinterpretation of social clues – very much like someone on the spectrum, I thought?

She is married to Terry, who after a couple of years of marriage takes her very much for granted and doesn’t really take any of her quirks and peculiarities to heart. For some reason, every time he said “Linda”, I had Mr. Brittas’s voice in my head!

There are two timelines present as well, a slow reveal of Linda’s past experiences – that you only get little teasers of initially, and her current situation.

This book is the perfect example of having an unreliable narrator (now I know what the recommend the next time I come across this prompt on a Goodreads challenge). So much so that, from a couple of reviews I saw, readers either love or hate Linda – there’s no in-between.

I found her eccentric, and really enjoyed her unique observations of everyday life and people, as well as the dark humour present this book.

The author is such a brilliant storyteller and the way she allowed us deeper and deeper into Linda’s back-story and deeper psyche was simply fantastic. I am keen to check out “The Trouble with Goats and Sheep” and “Three Things About Elsie” as well.

This was a 5-star read for me!

Thanks to NetGalley/ HarperCollins UK Audio, HarperCollins/Jonathan Ball Publishers for the gifted copies