A Lesson in Cruelty by Harriet Tyce #review

Book cover of The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller

Today’s book review is of Harriet Tyce’s new novel, A Lesson in Cruelty! Read on to find out what I thought…

Title: A Lesson in Cruelty
Harriet Tyce
Publisher: Wildfire



They say you can’t always get what you want. But you can take it.

Anna wants a fresh start. She doesn’t believe she deserves it, but after three years behind bars she has finally paid her dues. Most of them, anyway.

Lucy craves the attention of the only man she can’t have, her alluring Oxford professor. He’s married – not for the first time. Maybe she should be next in line?

Marie the recluse has been locked up for too long. She’s not ready to be free, but some rules are meant to be broken.

Everyone wants a perfect life. But not everyone is prepared to take it.

Unless someone decides to teach them a lesson.

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My review:

A Lesson in Cruelty follows three different women, each with their challenges. There’s Anna, who is due to be released the next morning from prison when something awful happens… then we meet Lucy, obsessed with her (married) university professor. We also see short excerpts from Maria, living in a rural area of Scotland with a convicted child killer.

From the beginning, Harriet Tyce’s writing is engaging. Anna’s storyline grabbed me from the very first chapter, creating a creeping sense of dread. I liked how the chapters switched between perspectives and Tyce’s writing prompted the reader to consider the other factors in why people behave the way they do. Even if someone has done wrong, it’s not a black-and-white case of someone being ‘bad’ or ‘good’; this book highlighted that.

I enjoyed that we were given time to get to know Anna and Lucy as characters a little better before we switched perspectives. I felt for Anna throughout the book – one mistake can ruin so many people’s lives. Only Maria remained more of an enigma because we spent less time in her head.

As we read on, we slowly uncover more about how these women may or may not be connected, and I enjoyed this slow teasing of clues – something I’ve come to expect from this author! Of course, there were some parts you needed to slightly suspend your disbelief for, but none that were too unbelievable, and plenty of twists and tension resulting in a satisfying ending!

My rating: 4/5

Many thanks to the publisher, Wildfire, for providing a copy of this book on which I chose to write an honest review.


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