Meet the new neighbours. Whose side are you on?
Have you met the People at Number 9?
Sara and Neil have new neighbours in their street. Glamorous and chaotic, Gav and Lou make Sara’s life seem dull. As the two couples become friends, sharing suppers, red wine and childcare, it seems a perfect couples-match. But the more Sara sees of Gav and Lou, the more she longs to change her own life. But those changes will come at a price.
I’ve seen a real mix of reviews for The People at Number 9, and I feel like this is partly because the way this book is presented is a little misleading. It seems to be a psychological thriller but, in my opinion, is actually a slow-burning novel about neighbourly relationships, marriage, friendship and the dangers of putting someone on a pedastal.
Sara is our main protagonist, who lives with her husband Neil and their kids live on a fairly affluent street. They all seem happy enough – and then a new family move in with their kids. Lou and Gavin are both creatives and seem bohemian and carefree. Sara becomes quite infatuated with them both, idolising them and wanting to become more like Lou. She and Neil become very close to the pair. What follows is the effect this has on their relationship, their existing friendships and their family.
The plot effectively reveals the way that wanting to be like someone else can be so damaging. I liked that the occurrences, on the whole, felt quite realistic, in that I didn’t feel it was overdramatic but there was an underlying feeling of tension, where you almost feel on the brink of it all going wrong. . As the reader it’s clear that Sara is too captivated by Lou, who perhaps isn’t as amazing as she thinks she is. What follows is like watching a slowly unfurling disaster – and yet, I was completely captivated! Although Sara’s behaviour seems completely bizarre, you can imagine a slightly bored mum becoming overinvolved in a neighbour who seems to live a much more carefree, ‘cool’ life than her own.
The plot is fairly slow-moving at times, particularly in the first half, but I found it a really interesting read and very much enjoyed seeing how Sara and Neil’s relationship with their neighbours develops and changes.
The characters themselves are not at all likeable, which for me wasn’t an issue at all. Neil is probably the most likeable for me, but even he has his faults as we soon discover. Sara, who I wanted to wake up and see the light, and who we follow throughout the novel, has many faults in the way she behaves and treats other people. The other characters also have their faults, and I liked that absolutely no one in this novel is perfect – this reflects real life much better than if someone came through at the end as being the ‘hero’. I love novels with flawed characters so if you do too, and you fancy something that isn’t too fast-paced, The People at Number 9 is a good option!