When Emily lets a stranger step out in front of her, she never imagines that split second will change her life. But after Emily watches a car plough into the young mother – killing her instantly – she finds herself unable to move on.
And then she makes a decision she can never take back.
Because Rose had everything Emily had ever dreamed of. A beautiful, loving family, a great job and a stunning home. And now Rose’s husband misses his wife, and their son needs a mother. Why couldn’t Emily fill that space?
But as Emily is about to discover, no one’s life is perfect … and not everything is as it seems.
With Claire Allan’s second thriller, Apple of My Eye, published this week, I thought I’d post a review of her first thriller, Her Name Was Rose, published in 2018. Her Name Was Rose is a story of obsession, paranoia, and grief. When Emily watches the eponymous Rose die in front of her, she becomes obsessed with researching and infiltrating Rose’s life. Emily looks at the social media accounts of both Rose and her husband Cian, a successful writer, and finds that their posts are always positive and showcase a seemingly perfect life and marriage. Emily fantasises about becoming part of Rose’s life and soon realises this dream when she applies for and gets Rose’s old job in a dentist’s office. She discovers that everyone at the office holds Rose in very high esteem, adding to the idea that Rose lived the perfect life.
But the cracks soon start to show as Emily delves deeper into Rose’s life and it becomes clear that her marriage wasn’t as happy as it appeared to be online. Cian, traumatised after Rose’s death, writes about his love for his wife in perfectly worded posts that show how much he loves her and misses her. But his actions often contradict his words and Emily soon becomes suspicious of him. Her Name Was Rose cleverly comments on our modern obsession with social media, both with our preoccupation with creating the perfect version of ourselves online for everyone else to see and our fascination with looking into other people’s lives. The book also importantly reminds us how easy it is to fabricate an online life that we wish we had rather than our online profiles being a reflection of the truth.
Allan cleverly switches between Emily’s narrative in the present and Rose’s narrative in the past which gradually reveals what her life was really like. Each of Rose’s chapters begin with a positive Facebook post from Rose about important milestones in her life. The remainder of the chapter then reveals the sadder truth behind that post and we soon recognise that there are many similarities between Cian in his relationship with Rose in the past and in his relationship with Emily in the present.
There are also important similarities between Rose and Emily as Emily herself also experienced a physically and emotionally abusive relationship a few years previous and is still damaged from it. Her own anxiety and self-doubt make her a very vulnerable and delusional character, the kind that immediately suspects that she may have been the intended target of the hit-and-run that killed Rose. Her vulnerability also leads her to become infatuated with how perfect others appear online and she cannot look past the mystique of the online facade. All she wants is to find love and happiness and she will do anything to achieve this. She is an intensely lonely character and feels abandoned by her own family following her messy breakup. Her only friend, Maud, now lives in New York so she is too far away to be fully instrumental in Emily’s life.
Before Her Name Was Rose, Allan published eight women’s fiction titles and this is her debut thriller. Her Name Was Rose is often surprising as the central mystery of who killed Rose and why they did it is gradually revealed. But it is the character of Emily and her relationship with Cian that is the driving force of the book. It’s full of twists and unusual characters which showcase Allan’s skills as a thriller writer. It’s also so refreshing to read a thriller that’s set in Derry. I look forward to reading Apple of My Eye very soon.
About the author
Claire Allan is an International Bestselling Author from Derry in Northern Ireland.
She wrote her first novel in 2006, and Rainy Days and Tuesdays was subsequently published in 2007 and reached number 2 in the Irish Bestsellers chart. She published seven further women’s fiction books with Poolbeg Press before switching genres to crime/ domestic noir.
Her debut psychological thriller, Her Name Was Rose, was published by Avon Books, an imprint of Harper Collins, in June 2018. It has hit the bestseller charts in the UK, Australia, Canada and is a USA Today bestseller.
A former journalist with the Derry Journal, Claire made the switch to writing full time in 2016.
She is married, a mum to two kids (one of each kind) and they share their home with two cats and a dog. She considers Michael Buble to be her one true love – although she rarely talks about the time she met him, and he kissed her and she kissed him back.