Review: The House on the Cliff, by Charlotte Williams

The House on the Cliff, by Charlotte Williams. Bourbon Street Books, 338 pp. $14.99

If you follow lifebythebooks on any sort of a regular basis, you’ll have already realized I reviewed The House on the Cliff earlier this year. I don’t want to re-review it, at least not in the same way I’ve already done. But in reading other goodreads reviews on this book, I wanted to go a little deeper into an element that has been getting mixed thoughts.

The House on the Cliff is written in first-person POV by way of Jessica Mayhew, the main character. She’s a therapist, and a good portion of her life is spent untangling the psychological web in her clients. She’s used at approaching a situation in a psychological way, and Williams’ writing shows her dissecting her own life the same way she would dissect a clients.

I really liked this part of the character. I thought it helped flesh her out a bit. We were able to understand her better because we were able to understand the way that her mind dealt with a situation. She’s very analytical, and that showed through the writing. I don’t know what experience Williams has in psychology, but I thought her development of Jessica’s character through her training and career was a great move.

I understand, however, why other readers might not have liked the added touch. Some felt it was too complicated, too hard to wade through Jessica’s thoughts into what was happening in the story. The thing is, though, that the book is told through Jessica’s eyes. We get her account of the story, and her thoughts regarding that account. That’s the entire point.

I noticed the psychological element to the story more perhaps because it’s something I found unique to this book. Using a character’s career, and training, to help move through the plot happens on occasion, but rarely as well as this. It wasn’t forced, and it wasn’t undervalued. Jessica would have thought through things in this way, as a psychologist, and it helps us connect with her when we also learn to understand things in this way.

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About katepadilla

I write for the Spencer Daily Reporter in Spencer, Iowa. I keep blogs lifebythebooks, Save Me, San Francisco, and Beauty and Beast Buy a House. I'm also hard at work writing a short story collection inspired by the music of Train.

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