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General Fiction

The Whispers

By: Ashley Audrain
Publisher: Viking
Publication Date: June 6, 2023
ISBN: 978-1-9848-8169-4
Reviewed by Diane Lunsford

Ashley Audrain has planted a wonderfully suspenseful garden chock full of secrets and intrigue in her latest novel, The Whispers.

All is not what it appears to be on Harlow Street. The neighborhood is upscale, and its residents are exemplary when it comes to flaunting over-the-top fabulousness. Whitney Loverly is married to Jacob, and they have three children. Xavier is ten and he has three-year-old twin siblings (one boy; one girl). If it weren’t for Xavier, the Loverly family would be the epitome of perfection. Whitney is a workaholic. She is a successful executive and if she had her druthers, she would be working versus hosting the ad nauseum end-of-summer barbeque at their home—the most expensive home on the street. Everything is going swimmingly well. "...They are there for a neighborly family afternoon, for the children, who play a parallel kind of game, but the men have chosen nice shoes, and the women wear accessories that don’t make it to the playground, and the tone of everyone’s voice is polished..." And then, the ‘storm’ ruins everything...

Whitney does a panoramic scan of her guests. All the neighborhood wives and their husbands are here. There’s Blair who is married to Aiden. She is a stay-at-home mom and completely obsessed with Whitney’s life. Eventually, Blair will learn that her blissful marriage to Aiden isn’t quite so pure. Mara and Albert are the ‘originals’ on the block. They have lived in the house on Harlow Street for an eternity. They are never invited to these random gatherings, but rest assured, Mara misses nothing of the goings on. Rebecca is a successful doctor married to Ben. The one thing she covets more in life than a successful practice is to experience childbirth and becoming a mother. There is quite the tangled web that has been woven on this pristine street among these cast of characters. When tragedy strikes the Loverly homestead, many of the deep (and somewhat dark) secrets have no other course than to rise to the surface and change the lives of every resident on Harlow Street forever more.

Ashley Audrain is on fire in this fast-paced and quite riveting novel. She has done a superb job of defining her interactive storytelling leaving it up to the reader to determine who to like and who to dislike. There were times when I felt as though I were vicariously experiencing a written version of a Real Housewives series it was so juicy. Whitney Loverly’s main character is beautifully layered. Foundationally, she is the unfeeling woman executive who has found her seat at the head of the table in the ‘corporate world,’ yet when tragedy hits too close to home, there are intermittent occasions where she possibly does have a thought that navigates beyond her self-professed greatness. I also enjoyed the periodic injections of Mara’s character at the most opportune moments. Mara is the original resident to the block and virtually invisible to her neighbors. Yet, Mara is tough as nails and doesn’t care. "...It’s amazing what you can learn about people when you’re more or less invisible. It’s the things they don’t want you to see that tell you the most..." There is no drag to the cadence of this read. Simply put, fasten your seat belts and get ready for the most entertaining ride of your life! Well done Ms. Audrain!

Quill says: The Whispers is a great opportunity to let your imagination run wild and perhaps question what really goes on in your neighborhood behind closed doors.

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