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The Rival is an incredibly powerful novel. Let me just say that although it fits into the genre of psychological thriller it is also in its own way an empowering piece of women’s fiction and a reminder to pay more attention to the people around us.
Charlotte Duckworth is a graduate of the Faber Academy’s acclaimed six-month ‘Writing a Novel’ course. She studied Classics at Leeds University and then completed a postgraduate diploma in magazine journalism. For the past 15 years she has worked as an interiors and lifestyle journalist, writing for a wide range of consumer magazines and websites. In 2011, she completed a postgraduate diploma in Screenwriting from London College of Communication. She lives in Surrey with her partner and young daughter.
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NOW: Living in her home in the countryside Helena is a career woman without a job and a mother without a baby. She blames Ashley for destroying her life. But is what happened really Ashley’s fault?
THEN: When Helena hires Ashley to work with her, she’s startled but impressed by her fierce ambition. They form a dream team and Helena is proud -maybe this is the protégé she’s always wanted to have? But soon Helena realises that nothing will stand in the way of Ashley’s drive to get to the top. And when Helena discovers she is pregnant, she quickly realises how vulnerable her position is, with devastating consequences.
The Rival is an addictive psychological suspense about ambition, female rivalry, mental health and motherhood and how far you’d ever go to get what you want.
The reader is taken from the present to past and vice versa, as we meet Helena and her ambitious co-worker Ash. In the past Helena doesn’t notice how Ash is encroaching on her terrain until it is too late to do anything about it. In the present the intelligent career woman has been reduced to a blubbering mess incapable of coping with life in general. Her job and career have disintegrated, and the house is now no longer filled with the sounds and smells of a baby.
Even when one takes the archaic patriarchal system into consideration and the fact there is still inequality between men and women, I still stand by the fact that women are often the greatest opposition to other women. The situation between Ash and Helena is an example of the way women think they should achieve and get rid of the competition in the workplace. Ash does what a lot of women do, especially in the world of business, she believes she has to be one of the men to succeed. Treating pregnant colleagues with disdain, judging their appearance instead of their professional capabilities, and being completely ruthless to get ahead.
Regardless of which aspect of this story you look at or connect with, it all comes back to support. The majority of us need support at some time or other during our lives, but I think the support women sometimes need is at the forefront of this read.
Motherhood is a topic that causes a lot of controversy, especially between women. Women who choose not to have children sneer at women who do, women who have children think childless women are missing out and aren’t complete women. Women who have c-sections are told they aren’t real mothers because only vaginal births count. Stay-at-home mothers are called lazy by career mothers, and career mothers are called neglectful by stay-at-home mothers. The author begins her story with a simple anonymous quote – Every mother is a working mother – and that is the truth. The above mentioned controversial and often hotly debated topics are just a few examples of how we degrade, demean and bring each other down instead of supporting and raising each other up.
This story is meticulously plotted, it doesn’t go in the direction you think it will and ultimately doesn’t focus on the element of the plot you think it might.I don’t want to reveal the twist in the plot, although I would love to talk about the ending. Kudos to the author for highlighting the issues. It’s an incredibly powerful and well thought out debut by Duckworth and I can’t wait to read what she comes up with next.
Let me just say that although it fits into the genre of psychological thriller it is also in its own way an empowering piece of women’s fiction and a reminder to pay more attention to the people around us.
Buy The Rival at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Quercus Books, Paperback pub date: 17 Oct. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.
Great review! I have this one to read, I must hurry up!!