Thursday, 9 August 2012

Review -Thy Neighbor : A Novel by Norah Vincent

Thy Neighbor by Norah Vincent
Published by Penguin Group USA
7 August 2012

Synopsis from Shelfari

From the New York Times bestselling author, a first novel as spellbinding as her acclaimed nonfiction At thirty-four, Nick Walsh is a broken, deeply cynical man. Since the violent deaths of his parents thirteen years earlier, he has been living alone in his childhood home in the suburban Midwest, drinking, drugging, and debauching himself into oblivion. A measure of solace is provided by his newly found relationship with Monica, a mysterious woman who seems to harbor as many secrets as he does. Obsessed with understanding the circumstances surrounding his parents’ deaths and deranged by his relentless sorrow, Nick begins a campaign of spying on his neighbors via hidden cameras and microphones he has covertly installed in their houses. As he observes with amusement and disbelief all the strange, sad, and terrifying things that his neighbors do to themselves and to one another, and as he, in turn, learns that he is being stalked, he begins to slowly unravel the shocking truth about how and why his parents died. At once unsettling and moving, humorous and horrifying, Thy Neighbor explores the nature of grief, the potential isolation of suburban life, and who we really are when we think no one is watching. What readers and critics have admired in Norah Vincent’s nonfiction is completely unleashed in this vivid and provocative novel.

My review 3***

This is a difficult book to enjoy as the main protagonist Nick Walsh is not a likeable character. He is cynical, disillusioned and deeply flawed. He is truly overwhelmed by the grief he feels for the loss of his parents, and yet underneath the facade is a vulnerability which at times cuts through his tactless and often blundering behaviour.

This is Norah Vincent’s debut novel, undeniably there are some flashes of brilliance, but there is also a lot to disturb the mind, and make the reader just a little uncomfortable. Whilst I’m not suggesting that this is a negative, I feel I must say that it took me a while to get used to the way in which the story developed.

Overall, this was a multifaceted and tricky book, the characters show a complexity that I struggled to understand, and I’m not altogether sure I really understood why Nick behaved as he did, but it certainly makes you think about human behaviour.

My thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Group USA for an advance e-copy to read and review


  1. This sounds pretty great - like a more twisted version of Hitchcock's Rear Window! I have never heard of Norah Vincent before but you have sparked my interest Jo.

    1. Hi Marie - this one is a bit out of my comfort zone - I suspect it will be a marmite read...
      This is Norah Vincent's debut novel,she is known more for her non fiction work.


Thanks for taking the time to comment - Jaffareadstoo appreciates your interest.