Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Farm by Tom Rob Smith

“Your mother has been committed”. So starts Tom Rob Smith’s new book, The Farm.  Daniel, the only child of a Swedish mother and English father, lives his entire life secure in the knowledge that his idyllic childhood was unmarred by conflict of any kind. His parents are undeniably well-suited; they never fight—never even disagree. Neither parent has any real extended family, so Daniel spends his youth firmly at the very center of this seemingly healthy and doting family.

When his parents leave London to retire to a small working farm in Sweden, everything begins to fall apart. Things he hadn’t known about them start bubbling to the surface; even more troubling are the claims each parent begins making about the other’s behavior in their new land. While Daniel’s mother Tilda was born and lived in Sweden until the age of 16, she’s treated like an “utlänning”, or foreigner when she returns. The townspeople encourage this feeling by seeming to shun her.

Secrets are a perpetual undercurrent running throughout the book; Daniel struggles with how to finally “come out” to his parents while living with Mark, his partner of 3 years.  Tilda meets and grows close to the adopted teenaged daughter of a Swedish patriarch; then mysteriously, the girl disappears.

This well-written, disturbing psychological thriller by the author of the Child 44 Trilogy will leave you questioning everything—motives, suspicions, alibis--until the very end. Mind games and manipulation abound, and situations can be interpreted in many different and varied ways, depending on the “lens” one is using to view them. 

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