The Safe Place by Anna Downes

Emily is a mess.

Emily Proudman just lost her acting agent, her job, and her apartment in one miserable day.

Emily is desperate.

Scott Denny, a successful and charismatic CEO, has a problem that neither his business acumen nor vast wealth can fix. Until he meets Emily.

Emily is perfect.

Scott offers Emily a summer job as a housekeeper on his remote, beautiful French estate. Enchanted by his lovely wife Nina, and his eccentric young daughter, Aurelia, Emily falls headlong into this oasis of wine-soaked days by the pool. But soon Emily realizes that Scott and Nina are hiding dangerous secrets, and if she doesn’t play along, the consequences could be deadly.

Superbly tense and oozing with atmosphere, Anna Downs’s debut is the perfect summer suspense, with the modern gothic feel of Ruth Ware and the morally complex family dynamics of Lisa Jewell.

Welcome to paradise…will you ever be able to leave? 

Summary from Goodreads


I kept thinking I knew where this was going, and at every point, Anna Downes not only proved me wrong, but also did it better than I could have hoped. The Safe Place is not my usual read; I’m not a huge fan of such complicated relationships, especially if there’s a whiff of potential infidelity in the story’s premise, but I kept seeing this pop up on my Goodreads, and honestly, the summary did catch my interest.

What I really appreciated about this novel, is that every point where it could have become a cliché, Downes took a hard right, and left you feeling breathless and craving for more.

The “reveal” of what actually happened kind of blew my mind. I had so many preconceived notions about what got the characters into the situations they were in, but the truth was so much better than what I thought. And what I mean by “better”, in some cases, I definitely actually mean “worse”. Which made for one hell of a story.

Another point towards Downes, is that by the end of the book, I had empathy for all the characters, even after everything they did. This scenario was not cut and dry, black and white. I mean, at some level, yes, but none of the characters did anything without a reason, even if that reason doesn’t make as much sense to a more . . . shall I say, even-keeled person.

I don’t want to give anything away, because every aspect of these characters has an effect on how the story came about, and how it ends. All I can say is: read it. If you like psychological thrillers with appealing characters and unforeseen twists, then The Safe Place is for you.

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