By C.L. Taylor
Agoraphobic Jo offers a stranger a lift one day, a decision she immediately regrets. The stranger claims Jo's Husband, Max, has something that belongs to her. Something she will stop at nothing to get back, including threatening Jo's daughter.
Jo feels as though her husband is not taking her seriously and neither are the police so she decides the only way to save her daughter is to run....
The Escape by C. L. Taylor was tense and full of surprises from the start.
The book begins with an anxious Jo hurriedly leaving work to pick up her daughter, Elsie, from nursery. As she is walking to her car Jo becomes aware of a woman keeping pace behind her, a woman who speeds up when she does. Jo begins to panic and cries out when the woman grabs her coat. The woman asks her if she knows where she can get a bus to Brecknock Road. Jo is surprised as this is where she lives and begrudgingly she offers the stranger, Paula, a lift.
Once in the car Jo realises she has made a horrible mistake when this woman she has never met before calls her by name when she hasn’t introduced herself. She also comments on what a pretty girl Elsie is. Paula then goes on to explain she knows Jo’s husband Max and that he has something that belongs to her. Then she digs around in her pocket and produces one of Elsie’s socks and tells her, You should keep an eye on your daughter’s things…and your daughter.
Shortly after this we learn that Jo is agoraphobic to the extent that it is a wonder she can bare to leave the house for work and pick up her daughter from nursery. Max discusses with a colleague the fact that Jo has never taken Elsie to the park or the Zoo and doesn’t like him to take her out when she isn’t there. Privately he reminisces on the fact that he thought she was getting better before Elsie was born but Elsie’s birth appeared to escalate her condition and now she is calling him constantly and they haven’t had sex in months.
He comments to his colleague that Jo is unable to even go grocery shopping now since she suspects someone was watching her last time she went. It is clear the extent of her agoraphobia, and his reactions to it, are putting a strain on their marriage.
With the addition of Paula’s threat it soon becomes clear that their problems are set to escalate and Jo is unsure if she even wants to continue in a marriage where she clearly isn’t believed or supported. Particularly when Max downplays and is dismissive of her fears.
As the book progresses, and it looks like there is a real possibility that Jo might lose Elsie, it becomes clear that the only way of keeping them together is to run.
I love the way C. L. Taylor develops the characters. Initially I had little patience with Jo believing that a lot of her behaviour, like not talking to the police, was ridiculous. As the book developed though I grew to like her more.
Max as a character annoyed me for the lack of support he gave to his wife but I also felt a bit sorry for him when it looked like things were falling apart between him and Jo.
I highly recommend this book.
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