By Anna Downes
Publisher/Year: Affirm Press/2020
For struggling actress Emily Proudman, life in London is not working out as planned – in fact, it’s falling apart. So when she is offered a live-in job working for a wealthy family on their luxurious coastal property in France, she jumps at the opportunity to start over.
The estate is picture-perfect, and its owners exude charisma and sophistication. But as Emily gets to know the family, their masks begin to slip, and what at first appears to be a dream come true turns out to be a prison from which none of them will ever escape – unless Emily can find a way to set them all free.
Reviewer: Jacqui Horwood
The Safe Place is the debut book of former actor, Anna Downes. The seeds for the story were sown from a current true crime case and Anna’s travels and life experiences.
The story is told by three characters. Emma Proudman is a struggling actress living in London whose life is falling apart. She has an uncomfortable relationship with her adoptive parents and is terrified of having to return home to the country town where she grew up. She
The other voices are Scott and Nina, a glamorous couple with a house in the French coast. Simon lives in London and Nina lives in France with their young daughter, Aurelia, who is seemingly beset by a multitude of illnesses.
Emma is at her lowest ebb when Simon employs her to be a live-in assistant to his wife in France. For Emma, this is a chance to escape her life in London. Nina is beautiful but fragile and Emma soon falls in love with the house and her new life despite the lack of contact with the outside world.
Of course, it’s all too perfect. As much as Emma doesn’t want to see that all is not what it seems, she has to grow up and face the truth. Simon and Nina are hiding something.
There is a languid pace to The Safe Place which echoes Emma’s life. Like her, we are lulled by the glamour and the beauty and until it is almost too late. The three unreliable narrators add to the tense atmosphere as we gradually, through Emma’s eyes, realise what is going on. The last few chapters are terrifying and will have you reading breathlessly until the end.
The Safe Place is an enjoyable psychological thriller and a solid debut from a talented writer.