‘This is not just sibling rivalry.
This is a murder waiting to happen.‘
– Keep Her Sweet
[ About the Book ]
Desperate to enjoy their empty nest, Penny and Andeep downsize to the countryside, to forage, upcycle and fall in love again, only to be joined by their two twenty-something daughters, Asha and Camille.
Living on top of each other in a tiny house, with no way to make money, tensions simmer, and as Penny and Andeep focus increasingly on themselves, the girls become isolated, argumentative and violent.
When Asha injures Camille, a family therapist is called in, but she shrugs off the escalating violence between the sisters as a classic case of sibling rivalry … and the stress of the family move.
But this is not sibling rivalry. The sisters are in far too deep for that.
This is a murder, just waiting to happen…
[ My Review ]
Keep Her Sweet by Helen Fitzgerald was published May 26th with Orenda Books and is described as ‘chilling, vicious and darkly funny…not just a tense, sinister psychological thriller, but a startling look at sister relationships and the bonds they share … or shatter.’
If you have read Helen Fitzgerald in the past then you will already know to expect the unexpected. In 2020 I reviewed the emotive and forceful Ash Mountain which you can read HERE and recall being quite shocked and upset as scenes unfolded before me. Keep Her Sweet is a very alternative offering. I was definitely shocked but in a very different way. This is the story of an extremely dysfunctional and highly toxic family, the Moloney-Singhs. Parents, Andeep and Penny, make a decision to downsize after their two daughters, Asha and Camille, leave home. This was to be their time to reconnect and rediscover love lost. Moving to a much smaller home away from the heightened pace of city living the decision was made that they would live a simpler life leaving the trappings of old behind.
But, as we all well know, life has other plans and Asha and Camille, both in their twenties, end up moving back in with their parents. This new house is too small for four grown adults and tempers quickly fray. Penny has long stopped laughing at Andeep’s jokes and his habits are annoying her but she wants their relationship to improve. Asha and Camille are incapable of being in the same room as each other and the arguments get more vicious by the minute.
Looking for some kind of solution to find peace in their now disrupted home, Penny invites a therapist, Joy, for a family counselling session. Joy is intrigued professionally by this family that appears to be disintegrating before her eyes. She listens to their words, is left stunned by some outbursts but has an open mind. Joy’s initial impression is of a case of classic sibling rivalry between Asha and Camille. With more sessions she is convinced that the fractured relationships can be salvaged.
Joy has her own personal problems. She tries to justify her life and the rapid changes that are taking place and is almost accepting of her lot. Originally from England, Joy would love to return home to visit her own sister but obstacles are in her way and she is not sure how she can best get around them. She is living on the edge, with her clients providing the one piece of security in her life.
Helen Fitzgerald takes the reader into the very disturbing and, almost alternative, world of a very VERY messed up family. Taking toxic to a whole new level, these are four individuals who really should not be in the same space together, not to mind the same house. This is a family living in an environment of inexorable misery riddled with violent outbursts and psychotic episodes. This is family-living taken to the extreme.
Most certainly not for everyone, Keep Her Sweet is a book that pendulates between complete madness and genius. There is dark, dark humour throughout and it is with a certain disbelief that I kept reading. Quirky, seriously off-beat and definitely alarming, Keep Her Sweet is a claustrophobic and disquieting read that has left me pondering what is really going on behind closed doors.
[ Bio ]
Helen FitzGerald is the bestselling author of ten adult and young adult thrillers, including The Donor (2011) and The Cry (2013), which was longlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, and is now a major drama for BBC1. Helen worked as a criminal justice social worker for over fifteen years. She grew up in Victoria, Australia. She now lives in Glasgow with her husband.