THE HOUSE SWAP : CRUMBLING MARRIAGE, BURIED AFFAIR AND REPERCUSSIONS
“This house was meant to be an escape – a step out of my life. But this feels less like a step out than a step back in, into a place I don’t want to remember.”
Rather than taking a long vacation to some exotic place, an idea of a House Swap sounds intriguing because it’s about exchanging your house with a complete stranger for a couple of days and living in their abode while they live in yours. Sounds pretty compelling.
However, what if it turns out to be one of your worst nightmares?
“The House Swap” is the debut novel of a British author, Rebecca Fleet, which walks along the lines of domestic violence with a gripping plot twist at the end that makes you question everything you have read before. It is a raw and believable book with undertones of creepiness and suspense, and it is one such book that will make your jaw drop due to the stunning ending that you don’t see coming.
The plot revolves around the protagonist Caroline and her husband Francis who have a complex relationship to say the least. They jump at the opportunity to escape their normal and tiring lifestyle via swapping their house with a complete stranger for a week. They swap their flat with a beautiful yet minimalist house with a hint of sinister and dark traces in it that they feel in their bones. Left with hopes of making up their crumbling marriage however, the exact opposite starts to happen because all the old obstacles and issues start to rise up. The house is uncanny and it bears signs of the protagonist’s life in a stranger’s place that she has never met before. Or has she? Her life of a few years prior emerges as little details that bugs her out and makes her paranoid with everything.
Is it the fault of the house owner with whom they swapped is at fault or the young intrusive neighbor who seems to intrude them at odd times? Or is it just the imagination and paranoia of the protagonist?
It is an intelligently written book that hinges on the relationship of two flawed people and their efforts to stay together and sane. The book is mostly written in Caroline’s point of view and sometimes from her husband’s, with an unknown person’s perspective after a couple of chapters.
Talking about chapters, Fleet has written them in two different timelines; one is 2013 and another is 2015 i.e. past and present, and it alternates. The author has done an amazing job with bringing this new concept of swapping houses, and is mostly a character driven story rather than a plot driven one. The way emotions are explored and described in this book is simply amazing. After every page, it is something different than that of what you expect it to be. The book feels new and refreshing compared to all the books and their similar plot lines and concepts that emerges when there is a female protagonist. The book is kind of slow to start with, but it works to its favor and makes it more fascinating to read because of the gradual build up of suspense and character development.
However, to some people, Caroline and Francis might make a difficult company as she is extremely narcissistic while he is battling his depression as well as his addiction to pills, making them harder to be together. The book might trigger some people because of the topics it indulges; troubled marriage, affairs, drug abuse, life changing mistakes, and just plain selfishness and narcissism that people find repealing.
That being said, it is worth the wait and is absolutely amazing from top to bottom. It is exhilarating and contemporary as it brings a new perspective to domestic violence. “The House Swap” is original, well – written, captivating and is definitely a must read.
Written by Isha Bhusal
Book provided by Laibarynp