I am a big fan of Caroline Overington’s early novels. No Place Like Home is one of my favourite books. However, since that one, her works of fiction have not engaged me in the same way that her previous ones did. She seemed to change tack, from stories based in social justice issues, set in Australia, to issues, while real, did not have the same depth, and some of the books were set in the States. Her latest, The Ones You Trust, is back in Australia, and while the protagonist works on a breakfast TV show, that world and all of its focus on what is superficial, and the different standards for men and women are highlighted with her deft hand.
Emma has been on Cuppa for eleven years, and it has had a monopoly with viewers until copycat Brew was launched. Then all of the rivalry and comparisons between the two started. Emma is now married with two children and she is pitted against younger, shinier, former winner of Make Me a Pop Star Cassie Clay. ‘She knew how it worked: having a breakfast show at No. 2 in the ratings was a disaster’.
The way that the media treats those in her position is portrayed so well – what she looks like, what she wears, what her family do. The issue of working mothers, and the way their choices are questioned, is revealingly examined.
Her husband Brandon has lost his job and now works from home and with the assistance of a nanny, cares for the children. The way society sees this role reversal of the standard male breadwinner and stay at home mum is depicted without judgement and with balance from both Emma and Brandon’s points of view.
These backstories are told in the Then chapters. And then in the Now their youngest child, Fox-Piper, goes missing, last seen at childcare. This starts this gripping thriller that I knocked off in two days.
Topical and relevant, you will recognise characters, and have many aha moments. Throw in secondary characters like Emma’s sister and niece, and her producer Maven, you have a great read. Different to her early work, but terrific on another level.