Book Review – Second Life by S.J. Watson

Do you live two lives? Have another side of you no one knows about? Do you compartmentalize a secret life from you significant other, children, close friends, etc?

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Do you live two lives? Have another side of you no one knows about? Do you compartmentalize a secret life from you significant other, children, close friends, etc? Julia is one such person. In her public life, she’s married to a top surgeon, has a son, and lives a suburban English life in London. On the other side of the line she has a lot more on her plate than she has let on to anybody else. Having just got over the loss (brutal murder) of her sister Kate, she grapples with raising her teenage son and at the same time privately investigating the cause of her sister’s murder.

The most exciting part of this book comes after the one-third mark. Although the beginning was a tad slow, it was interesting enough not to make the whole process overly weary. Right after I learn about Julia’s “other life” is when things start getting interesting. You see, this all unravels when she starts investigating her sister’s murder, driving her deeper and deeper into a pit she is unable to climb out of. Ina sadistic way, a part of me – actually most part of me, really wanted her to go down that slide, just to find out what would come out of it.

Although there are places where I find her actions somewhat extraordinary, Watson tries to explain through Julia’s POV in her stream-of-consciousness ramblings – it also helps that we learn of her past alcohol addiction and panic attacks, and later on – her drug history. This certainly helped me feel more relatable to her and her actions. Perhaps if you’re struggling with a married with kids scenario, Julia is presenting to you a solution to that problem, together with all the justifications you would probably have made in your head.

Of course, in true psychological thriller style, the plot twists at the end were nothing short of a blast. Who really killer her sister? Is her husband who he says he is? Is her relationship with her son all that straightforward? You’ll have to read it like I did, to find out. My only gripe here is that I found the ending a little complex to understand, underneath the tangled web of relationships. A few times I went: Who is related to who again?

Rating: 4.75/5 (slow start but picks up good momentum less than halfway through, unexpected plot twists, dramatic ending albeit slightly complex.

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