The Woman who Ran by Sam Baker
Published by Harper Collins
28th January 2016
How do you escape what you can’t remember?
She can run. But can she hide?
Helen Graham is a new arrival in a tiny Yorkshire village, renting dilapidated Wildfell Hall. The villagers are intensely curious – what makes her so jumpy and
why is she so evasive?
Their interest is Helen’s worst nightmare. Looking over her shoulder every day, she tries to piece together her past before it can catch up with her.
With everything she knows in fragments, from her marriage to her career as a war photographer, how can she work out who to trust and what to believe? Most days she can barely remember who she is…
The latest novel from former editor of Red magazine, Sam Baker, takes a more gritty approach from her previous novels, and I wholeheartedly approve of it. This novel is loosely based around the classic book The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte and tells the story of photographer Helen Graham who having arrived in Yorkshire in order to rest and recuperate, finds herself the centre of all village gossip.
The story weaves back and forth through Helen’s life, from her early photography days to her relationship with the seemingly charismatic Art and then her hurried departure from a burning apartment building in France with what appears to be the body of her husband trapped in the ruins as the building fills with smoke. Though what caused her to turn and run that night, and what leaves her forever looking over her shoulder now, no one really knows.
Newly retired jounalist Gil Markham isn’t one for gossip, or so he claims. He now plans to take life easy, spend time with his daughters and their grandchildren, and move away from the general hustle and bustle of the working world he used to be a part of. However old habits die hard and soon, like all of the other villagers, he too is wondering what the story behind the elusive Mademoiselle Graham actually is. Has Helen found the perfect retreat, or by moving to such a remote location, has she actually put herself in more danger?
I really enjoyed the book and also the way it flitted forwards and back. The tales of working on the front line as a female war photographer sounded authentic and as a character, I admired Helen. Did I find it totally plausible that she would rent the seemingly spooky sounding Wildfell Hall when she is actually worried about her own safety, I’m still not 100% convinced, but then that’s my own opinion, as that house is not somewhere I would have chosen to live in on my own, but for Helen maybe it’s not as weird. Would she have been safer in a larger city where she could have disappeared amongst the many, who knows? Regardless of this, The Woman who Ran is a tense thriller that’s worthy of a read.
Miss Chapter x