editor's choice



It’s a huge pleasure to have finally read Louise Voss’s The Old You. Like many, I’d heard about the book, read reviews and even had a copy on my shelves, beckoning to me over the last months – yet I didn’t read it as I didn’t have the time. Then, as luck would have it, I came down with the flu (real, not ‘man’ or a cold, alas) and while recovering had the excuse to sit – well, actually lie down – and read it, with the kind of attention I very rarely have now: uninterrupted and without the underlying sense of guilt that there’s something else that should be done. And, it’s my kind of book.

That said, on many levels, The Old You is not an easy read as it deals with the real issues and fears that many of us have about our mental health. It’s also not an easy book to review as to go into pretty much any detail would rather spoil the plot. What I would say is that it’s extremely enjoyable: reading it was like meeting an old friend – one, albeit, that had undergone several face lifts and acquired a few new body parts, but an old friend none the less.

I love crime fiction in all its different guises, especially noir – and usually the darker or more screwball it is the better. The Old You though is a somewhat old-fashioned psychological thriller and I mean that as a compliment. It harps back to the gentle, but shockingly effective manipulation of du Maurier (at her best, I feel, in her short stories) and the sense of disquiet and shifting sands found in Hitchcock’s greats, like The Birds (a du Maurier story), Marnie and Rope. Reading Voss is like being caught in a hall of mirrors, where everything is slightly distorted and one’s perception of reality is continually challenged. We’re completely off balance, floundering as we try to grab onto some truth. It’s clever, creepy and totally gripping. It’s magic.

And yet, the very best thing about The Old You is that I just didn’t want it to end.



The Old You | Louise Voss | Orenda Books | 5 May 2018 | paperback | £8.99





Music: Bernard Herrmann’s soundtrack to Marnie; Henry Mancini’s ‘Lujon’; a selection of Ennio Morricone’s giallo music (kitch but great).

A taste of those Old Familiars (the books, films, music that are revisited for well-being and positive mental health reasons): Sean Connery, interviewed about Marnie (1964); Ingrid Bergman being gaslighted magnificently by Charles Boyer in Gaslight (1944).


See also: ‘Another one bites the dust: Symon’s Overkill; ‘Beautiful words – The Language of Secrets’; ‘Beauty in translation – Roxanne Bouchard’s French Canadian noir’; ‘Johana Gustawsson’s Keeper – indie publisher Orenda does it again‘; ‘We should all be feminists’; ‘Jane Harper’s stylish debut – The Dry’; ‘Mallory an old-style hero – It Happens in the Dark by Carol O’Connell’; ‘How Penguin learned to fly – Allen Lane and the Original “Penguin Ten”’; Dorothy L. Sayer’s Busman’s Holiday – Romek Marber for Penguin Crime (book covers we love).

Selected The Literary Lounge Q&As/interviews:  ‘Gunnar Staalesen: The Literary Lounge Q&A’; Some like it hot – the joy of Carole Mortimer, award-winning novelist; ‘Meet Gina Kirkham: The Literary Lounge Q&A.

Film: The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970) – a Billy Wilder classic?; Night Mail (1936), changing the face of British film; A Colour Box by Len Lye (1935); Hitchcock (2012); The Splendour of George Stevens’ Giant (1956). Hitchcock (2012); The Splendour of George Stevens’ Giant (1956).


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