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A Tidy Ending by Joanna Cannon | book review


On the one hand I told everyone who asked me about what I was reading that “I wasn’t feeling it”, yet on the other I had a morbid curiosity that made me REALLY want to finish it.

It was creepy, the narrator was unreliable, it was odd, uncomfortable, annoying, macabre. Do not be fooled by the bright cover filled with Daffodils, this was another dark read. 

I wasn’t loving it, yet I had to keep reading.


Linda has lived around here ever since she fled the dark events of her childhood in Wales. Now she sits in her kitchen, wondering if this is all there is – pushing the Hoover round and cooking fish fingers for tea is a far cry from the glamorous lifestyle she sees in the glossy catalogues coming through the door for the house’s previous occupant.


Terry isn’t perfect – he picks his teeth, tracks dirt through the house and spends most of his time in front of the TV. But that seems fairly standard – until he starts keeping odd hours at work, at around the same time young women start to go missing in the neighbourhood.


If Linda could just track down Rebecca, who lived in the house before them, maybe some of that perfection would rub off on her. But the grass isn’t always greener: you can’t change who you really are, and there’s something nasty lurking behind the net curtains on Cavendish Avenue…

I’ve read that description over and over…..and having finished A Tidy Ending, I can’t square the blurb with what this book is about, it certainly doesn’t capture the sinister atmosphere, the growing sense of unease or the claustrophobia.

Linda’s a misfit, she doesn’t get it right, she’s obsessive, and, most people would say, very strange. She’s fed up with life, she’s fed up with Terry, here’s a woman who expected more from life. 

When Rebecca’s glossy magazines start landing on her doorstep, Linda sees it as a chance to change her life, she has a grand plan to track Rebecca down and become her friend….her very best friend.

Whilst Linda is on her mission to reinvent her life, the estate she lives on is rocked by a series of murders, suspicion falls on the residents as they and the police try to unmask who the serial killer amongst them is.

Reflecting on this book, Linda is one of the most compelling characters I’ve read about. I can’t think of many who have stirred up quite so many different emotions 

There were times I felt sorry for her, she was lonely, desperate for friends, desperate to belong. She was someone who didn’t seem to understand social cues. She’d come on too strong and I cringed at her cack-handed attempts to force her friendship on others.

Then I’d find her bloody irritating. I’d get frustrated at her stupidity and wanted to give her shake, I wanted to scream that these people were using her and had no interest in being her friend.

She made me feel uneasy at times. There seemed to be a slight hint of nastiness to her. Her obsessive nature creeped me out, but she did make me laugh too. It’s why I kept with this book, as a reader I never quite had her figured out, I was unsure of her and that was quite addictive.

Ultimately, this is a tale about not judging a book by it’s cover. Let’s be honest, looking at this cover you’d be forgiven for thinking this could quite possibly be a light read, don’t be fooled it’s really quite dark. I judged this book by its cover, and I made the same mistake as most characters in this book, I judged Linda. 

Everyone has the same thoughts about Linda, they underestimate her constantly, view her as slow, easy to manipulate and annoying. I viewed her in the same way, I took her behaviour at face value, so much so that when the twist came, I wasn’t prepared for it, which, despite my early reservations, made this book a triumph.

The twists are well executed, it’s an incredibly clever novel and Linda will certainly leave a mark on you long after the final sentence.

I may not have loved it, it’s definitely a grower and a book I won’t forget in a hurry.

radiosarahc View All

Journalist, writer, traveller, music lover, collector of hats, news addict, bookworm

14 thoughts on “A Tidy Ending by Joanna Cannon | book review Leave a comment

  1. This seems like an interesting read but I think I would give it a shot only when I will be in the right mood for this kind of book. Thank you again for another honest review!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review Sarah! Although this is not likely one I will check out, I appreciated reading your review. Thanks for sharing.


  3. Great review! This sounds like a really different read, completely unexpected from when I originally saw the cover yet like something I’d enjoy all the same. Sometimes it’s nice to read something a little darker, and Linda’s character sounds incredibly complex! Thank you so much for sharing x


  4. This sounds like an interesting read. I haven’t heard of this book before. You have shared a great detailed review. Thank you for the recommendation.

    Lauren – bournemouthgirl x


  5. This sounds like an interesting book! The cover colors and fonts certainly draw me in, and I like that you found the twists unexpected. Novels that grow on you definitely have a compelling element to them, as it is up to the reader to really digest the story. 🙂


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