Because of You by debut author Helene Fermont is a confident and absorbing work of modern women’s fiction with a psychological twist, spanning three decades in the intertwined lives of four individuals.
Starting off at the tail end of the disco era in the 1970s, the novel introduces us to fresh-faced 18-year-old Hannah Stein, who has left her native Sweden to spend a gap year in London before launching into a challenging teaching career with special-needs children.
The early chapters see Hannah finding her feet as she adjusts to life away from her parents, making friends and slowly coming out of her shell as she is introduced to the exciting London club scene. Here she meets the handsome, charismatic Mark. There is an immediate and undeniable sexual chemistry between them, but Mark has a reputation as a serial womaniser and the couple’s relationship quickly becomes tempestuous. While still involved with Mark, Hannah is introduced to the alluring Ben at a friend’s birthday party. They are made for each other and he has the stamp of approval from Hannah’s parents and friends, but the course of true love never did run smooth and over the coming years life will throw a series of obstacles in their path as Hannah tries to decide between him and the persuasive yet unscrupulous Mark. Foremost among these obstacles will be Vanessa, the daughter of a millionaire who is Ben’s business partner. Her obsession with Ben means she will stop at nothing to undermine the relationship between Ben and Hannah, and a cash-strapped Mark is only too happy to help in her underhand plans.
Split between London and Sweden, Because of You weaves a complex and fulfilling narrative tapestry as the years, and decades, pass. Just as in real life, the indiscretions and mistakes of the past leave their mark on the characters as each searches for happiness in their own, sometimes misguided, way.
Between 1978 and 2014, when the saga comes to an uplifting and satisfying conclusion, Hannah, Vanessa, Mark and Ben face many trials and tribulations, some shared, some alone; some to be expected and others, such as a terrifying rape ordeal, coming completely out of the blue.
Loss, bereavement, and grief are recurring themes. Hannah, for example, has to accept that friends move on with their lives and that her parents and beloved grandmother will not be around for ever. The description of one of the characters having to deal with their mother’s sad decline with Alzheimer’s disease, for instance, is especially poignant, as is another character’s experiences after suffering a miscarriage.
Another key motif is the role of fate and destiny in shaping people’s lives, and how individuals respond to situations that are simply out of their control. What is refreshing is how author Helene Fermont goes to great lengths to create believable and relatable three-dimension characters. Even the supporting cast and most villainous antagonists all have their reasons for acting as they do while retaining the facility to adapt, even to find some form of redemption and atonement, over the course of time.
And perhaps it’s the author’s Anglo-Swedish heritage that has a part to play in making Because of You unique in the booming women’s lit genre. The realism combined with dark psychological undertones have more than a whiff of Scandinavian noir about it, usually something found only within the realm of crime fiction.
As engaging as it is thought-provoking, this character-driven novel is a nuanced account of the way past events and experiences can shape personalities and impact on the present – both for good and bad – and how, beneath the turbulent streams of life, enduring love, acceptance and fidelity can ultimately bring peace and contentment.
At 500 pages, it’s not a short read and certainly not to be mistaken for an airport novel. But for readers ready to invest the time and emotion, they will discover that Because of You is an exceptional first novel by an author with a clear and original voice, and a very promising future.LoveReading
Five huge stars I loved every page. Love reading about marriage problems as my followers on Goodreads who read my reviews knows. Jacques & Patricia have been happily married for years. They both were looking forward to when Jacque retires, & had planned what they were going to spend their time together doing. Patricia’s world is about to fall apart, her husband is found dead in a hotel room. Unfortunately Jacque had been keeping secrets away from his wife. Had Patricia been married to a stranger? So many secrets I can’t tell you all. I hope you buy His Guilty Secret it a splendid read. Helene Fermont has now become my new favourite author.I Read Novels
Jacques has it all: a loving, trusting wife, a good job as a pilot, a sister who can keep his secrets and a mistress who doesn’t want to break up his marriage. No wonder this double life causes him so much stress that he has a heart attack whilst in a hotel with his mistress, Isabelle. His wife, Patricia, knows that Jacques likes to ‘unwind after his flight’ by staying overnight in a hotel but Patricia has no idea that he’s not alone. Oooh I could have shaken her – what normal man doesn’t want to rush home to his family? A man who’s a cheating, liar that’s who!
So in the aftermath of Jacques death, it becomes clear to Patricia that Jacques wasn’t as faithful as she thought. He loved her, of that there is no doubt, but he also loved Isabelle and, although he claimed to love both women and couldn’t leave either one of them, he annoyed me as he was selfishly having his cake and eating it. Patricia starts to dig into Jacques’ secret life and I felt so sorry for her when she realised that her sister-in-law and close friend, Coco, knew all along about Jacques’ relationship with Isabelle. This is where Patricia really showed what she is made of, as she could have easily folded under the weight of grief and deception. She picks herself up and gets on with her life, determined to unearth every last secret that Jacques had buried. His deception hurt her so much that nothing else can hurt her now.
There’s something so crisp, clean and refreshing about Hélene Fermont’s writing that it is very aptly referred to as having a scandi-feel. We hear a lot about the Danish concepts of ‘hygge’ and ‘lykke’ and I feel that His Guilty Secret completely embraces the ethos of the Scandinavians. There is no woman scorned, crying for days and feeling sorry for herself in this book, it’s more a ‘keep calm and carry on’ and make the most of what you have left. So very thought-provoking and eloquent, I think Hélene Fermont could almost have a genre all to herself.Michelle at The Book Magnet
Fermont’s gutsy dialogue helps build and accessorise the strong dramatic storyline with its honesty and raw grittiness. Her skill at understanding people and their psychology is evident and beautifully demonstrated throughout her story and her style of writing which is very readable and move the story forward fluidly and at the perfect pace.
I thoroughly enjoyed this it was a little bit different from my previous reads and I felt engaged from start to finish with its multi layered and cleverly thought out plot.
With unexpected twists and turns and many interwoven themes of love, dishonesty and deceit it is a beguiling and thoroughly compelling read .If your a fan of well written fiction with a mystery and psychological element I highly recommend this as an entertaining and enjoyable read.If In Doubt Read
Fermont’s writing is engaging and many chapters end with a bit of a cliffhanger or a concluding thought that makes the reader want to continue. Because of the nature of the story and the themes explored, this is not a page turner in the traditional sense of the word, but there is something compelling that makes this book very readable and a little unputdownable. There are a lot of a characters to engage with but they are well described and all feel like they have a role in the story and are convincing in their portrayal. I particularly enjoyed Fermont’s use of dialogue. She captures some of the more toxic behaviour and speech with insightfulness. There are some conversations that are harsh or blunt and the author is not afraid to be brutal in the way the characters speak to each other but this all feeds into creating vivid characters and a dramatic storyline.
As well as exploring the consequences of Jacques death on his wife, Fermont also looks at the the dynamics between siblings and how complicated and entangled these relationships can be. I found her examination of the interaction between siblings very interesting.
This is a complicated, multi-layered novel which is absorbing and compelling. It looks at universal themes such as betrayal, love and deceit with more emphasis on the psychological and moral implications of the characters’ decisions and choices. Fermont’s writing feels accomplished and sophisticated; there is drama, emotion and tension throughout the pages. This is contemporary women’s fiction and will appeal to anyone who enjoys a more multilayered plot with a cast of interesting characters.Bibliomaniac UK
This is book is full of characters who are not always likeable as they struggle to deal with grief, affairs, addictions, power struggles, toxic families and bitter relationships. Fermont isn’t afraid to delve into the dark and selfish side that everybody has, and gives an insight into the way people deal with the devastating events.
Yet, this book does have hope, that awful circumstances – affairs, deaths, addictions, divorces can make people stronger, and ready to face the next challenge. This exploration into the self can make an uncomfortable read
His Guilty secret is a compelling book, exploring the darker side of relationships, and will keep you absorbed until the end.Jessica – Writer’s Little Helper
The premise for this hooked me instantly, I’m always down with a book about secrets and boy were there some whoppers here! Patricia’s husband Jacques passing away naked and alone in a hotel room is just the beginning of questionable happenings and as she grieves her loss Patricia is forced to simultaneously face up to her own past as well as the lies her husband died protecting.
I read one of Fermont’s books last year and really enjoyed it, it was very different from the types of books I’m typically drawn to, but made for an engrossing read. She has a skillful and lovely way with words that draws you in and she creates characters that are relatable, they seem like women that I would want to approach in real life. I felt so much sympathy for Pat, I can’t imagine being blindsided the way she was and admired the grace and dignity she maintained while trying to pick up the pieces of her shattered life.
This was on the lighter side despite it dealing with some heavy topics, it read like a true drama and was full of interesting secondary characters giving it an almost soap opera vibe. There were so many secrets being kept, it seemed like all of them were hiding something and I always like that uneasy sense of not knowing who to trust in a book. This was an emotional journey following Pat and I was wholly invested in her life and that of her family and friends, pick this up if you’re in the mood for something different that’s written in a really beautiful and unique way.Amy – Novelgossip
His Guilty Secret is a book where secrets won’t remain buried, coming out in scandalous tales of betrayal, forbidden love, jealously, manipulation, and death. Making every secret take on its own life. The chapters seemed to melt away as Helene took me on an emotional journey, through beautifully woven subplots, characters, the roaring metropolis of London, and the Scandinavian jewel of Malmo, adding both urban and cultural dynamics to a story. When it ended I was screaming with despair.
The first chapter hooks you straight away, igniting your inner detective as you begin to put together the clues. Who is Jacques? What are his hidden secrets? Who is the woman he is travelling with? Is she more than just a mistress? And what is the gift they have both been given? Helene’s writing style only helps to heighten these feelings as you can imagine her voice coming through with every word as you begin to take notes connecting the dots. It is an explosive start.
Relationships are critical to the story throughout because all of the characters’ lives entwine with one another. Helping expose flaws that make these characters come to life as they go through the trails of second guesses, paranoia, and deceit. This is shown to us in several interesting chapters. Every time you turned a page it seemed like a new secret was waiting to entice us in, from Coco’s drug and alcohol abuse, to Jasmine’s real reason for the toxicity towards her sister and Isabelle protecting Jacques’ most deceitful secret of all. As well as Patricia’s relationship with Jacques, what did she really know about her husband? What was he hiding? Why is he now dead? You just didn’t know what was coming next.
The relationship which gripped me from the beginning was Patricia and Jasmine. The pure bitterness which Jasmine shows for Patricia is astounding and I loved it. It doesn’t help matters that Jasmine is married to her sister’s ex Patrik, however, as their relationship unravels we see multiple reasons for the sisters’ distrust of one another. From an untold secret within Patricia and Patrik’s relationship, a family secret that has affected Jasmine her entire life. This subplot within the story really explored how even though you are sisters it doesn’t mean you will get along. This is one of Helene strongest points as a writer – she digs deep into the characters emotions and makes them identifiable with her readers.
The character of Jacques haunts every page. His deep manipulative ways are burning in the background. The level of control he has over the three main women in this hollowing tale is mind-blowing and even after his death they can’t seem to escape. These different manipulations are displayed to the reader throughout the book in many different ways giving us a unique insight into how he has been able to deceive and lie to them all. Some of the key ones are Patrica and Isabelle’s deep love for him, Isabelle hiding their gift and Coco’s blind loyalty even though it could permanently damage her and Patricia’s relationship. This shows how Jacques’ shadow still influences their daily lives. As Patricia fights to find out the truth about Jacques mysterious death, Helene exposes us to these abuses of power giving us key information into what motivated Jacques to continue his flawed double life. Jacques is the lynch pin of the book effecting every character in both large and small ways. Some of these are very clear to the reader from the start, where others take time to be understood.
The presentation of Jacques from all three women’s viewpoint allows for both strength and vulnerability to be shown. I feel we see this most as the story unfolds with Patricia, as she begins to question everything she thought she knew about the man she loved. Helene presents this to the reader in several ways, from angry confrontations with Coco who she knows is hiding something behind her booze and drug induced haze and her desperate attempt to repair her relationship with Jasmine after returning to her childhood home of Malmo. Patricia is a character that tests your emotions to the limit and who we are also able to see the most development from throughout the story.
This is a deeply disturbing read at times. Allowing the reader to question and discuss many everyday issues. Plunging you into a world of secrets and lies which could truly destroy a person. That is what I enjoyed most about this read. Helene isn’t afraid to write these taboo subjects from alcohol misuse to infidelity. This book has it all. This is a 4.5 star read perfect for anyone who enjoys psychological thrillers.Dan Stubbings – The Dimension Between Worlds
People can deceive you and manipulate you, either men or women, no one told us the different and these kind of people disguise themselves so well that you will never know who they are until you’re already entangled.
This is such a powerful writing, such a great book to be given to our sons and daughters.
Don’t think that the book is sad or too frightful, no!! Read His Guilty Secret as it will give you strength to fight back and be strong.
A huge praise for Helene Fermont and this book is truly a masterpiece.Alejandra’s Life
A very real read that I enjoyed, and found it easy to identify with the characters. Full of emotions and secrets.Baatty About Books Blog
His Guilty Secret is a story you never quite expect… you never know what to expect but are always anticipating some new form of drama.
The writing has you not quite knowing who to side with; with more characters being introduced with their own secrets and insights, you find yourself in a love/hate relationship with most characters, but mostly find yourself totally in love with Fermont’s writing and characterisation.
This characterisation is only aided by her Scandinavian influence. Never have I seen the traumas Patricia faces written in such a way, and for sure, it has you gripped.
I found the movement of settings (London, Paris, and Mälmo) really interesting as the cultural changes really bring out different aspects of the different characters. I also found it interesting as I’ve grown up in London and been to Paris many-a-time (it’s one of my favourite cities for sure) but Mälmo is a place I’m unfamiliar with so it was a real eye opener; it gave an insight into where the author grew up and how it may have influenced her writing.
I also find it intriguing that there is a strong psychological aspect to Fermont’s writing; she has past claimed that this aspect has been influenced by events in her own life (though it is fiction and there is no actual link between the story and her own). This aspect has such a positive impact on the characters and story’s development.
I found myself totally gripped to Hélene Fermont’s His Guilty Secret within the first few pages, and couldn’t find myself putting the book down. I was desperate to know who had what other secrets, presents, and pasta each character- even seemingly innocent- had.
The book is beautifully written and has me longing to get my hands on her other books as soon as possible!
I definitely think all of you should read His Guilty Secret even if it’s not necessarily your genre. It wasn’t mind, but I couldn’t help but find it a great read.Stories Can Make Us Fly Blog
I loved the settings of this book and enjoyed travelling from the UK, to Paris and Sweden. His Guilty Secret follows the story of Patricia, wife of Jacques, handsome Air France pilot who dies suddenly in a hotel room in London leaving utter devastation behind his dual-led life.
Patricia, as much as she loves and was devoted to Jacques knows little things he did while he was alive didn’t add up and as Jacques sister, Coco, shuts down on her when questioned she knows she must discover the truth.
The interesting thing about this book is the reader knows exactly what is going on right from the outset. So if you are looking for big plot twists and suspense then this might not be the book for you. What this novel does is look at the psychological minefield of grief, relationships both romantic and siblings and rivalry in personal and business domains. It seems that while everyone was drifting along portraying an image of the ideal life, marriage and family, in actual fact, no one knows what is really going on behind closed doors.
There are some beautiful paragraphs in this book, mainly belonging to Patricia, as she tries to describe how she is coping with and trying to understand what is and has happened in her life. They are wonderfully raw, honest and really paint the picture of how vulnerable and stripped the person left behind is after the death of a loved one.
There are quite a lot of characters and couples in this book and I found it a bit of a shame that not one set was happy or monogamous. They are all quite strong in opinions and quick to judge and sometimes I found this made everything a little hard to believe. However, the author has tried hard to make clear the reasons and history for behaviour of most of them.
If you love a book that is a tangled web of lies and deceit that slowly unpicks through a psychological stand point then you will really enjoy His Guilty Secret by Helene Fermont.The Very Pink Notebook Blog
The settings swapping between Paris, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, were described beautifully and allowed me to visualise the areas the characters were in. Similarly, the character development was interesting to read. I found it a nice change to know what was going on from the start, unlike Patricia, our main character. It was one of those strange situations where you know exactly what’s happening, and the secrets are heavily hinted at from the start. Combining this with Hélene’s general writing style, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this different take on a mystery type book.
Hélene’s words when describing Patricia’s feelings as she tries to cope with the loss of her husband, alongside everything else that is going on in her life at this point in time, beautifully convey the vulnerable position our protagonist is in.
I’ll be honest and say there were that many couples in the book, I did struggle at times to keep track of which couple was which, and I was also a little disappointed in the way their relationships were documented. However, Hélene manages to convince you that everything happens for a good reason, and I suppose it’s a more realistic portrayal of modern day relationships.
Would I recommend this book? Yes. I would give His Guilty Secret a rating of 4 stars out of 5. The idea behind the story is a brilliant concept, and as I said above I did thoroughly enjoy the whole “we know something you don’t” feeling.Life With KT Kinnes
I haven’t read a good, epic story of a life in way too long and I hadn’t realized how much I’ve missed them until I started reading Because of You. It was so completely different from the books I’ve been drawn to as of late. It was an emotional, yet sometimes dark journey alongside Hannah Stein. The novel follows her during the majority of her adult life, and the reader experiences all the highs and lows of her life right beside her…
I was very invested in Hannah’s life and eager to see where she would end up. As much as I wanted to see how it would end, I was sad to say goodbye to Hannah and her friends and family when it was all over. This is a story of love, friendship and family. A story of one woman’s fascinating life experiences and how she copes with all the pain and loss that comes with simply living life.Amazon Review
There is a darker side to this novel – mainly from Hannah’s boyfriend Mark when she first arrived in London and after a while we see that he’s becoming quite controlling and then obsessed with her. Later in the novel Hannah suffers at the hands of an obsessive colleague who won’t take no for an answer. Because of You doesn’t shy away from difficult topics and, although at times the storylines were hard to read, it was actually good to see these issues covered in contemporary fiction because these things do happen to people in real life.
Because of You is a great mix of contemporary fiction and noir. I’d recommend this novel to anyone who loves long novels that are cross genre. I’ll certainly be looking out for more books by Helene Fermont in the future, I can’t wait to read whatever she writes next!Rather Too Fond of Books
I read the book in two days – what a page-turner! The book has many psychological twists following a few characters through part of their lives in Sweden and England dealing with their complex relationships – highs and lows. Being a fan, when is the next book coming out?Amazon Review
…an impressive début from a promising author.Amazon Review
Giving the reader a full and detailed account of the love story of Hannah and Ben, starting in 1970’s London and spanning the course of three decades, Fermont creates a beautiful generational set of characters, from young Hannah, to her glamourous mother and her matriarchal and adored grand-mother (whom I have to say was probably my favourite character, I loved her aged wisdom.)
Along with the very good characters, naturally, must come some very bad. And bad they are. I was pleased to discover why they were so callous and heartless, the author gives us plenty of explanation as to why they act the way they do – if you are never shown real love, how can you understand what it is?Amazon Review
The book is full of realism and covers some complex moral issues. I found it a very captivating read.Amazon Review
This book was absolutely incredible from start to finish. i could not put it down after i picked it up. The story line was beautiful, following Hannah and others though her life journey between Sweden and London, through countless twists and turns, ups and downs. It may have become deep and dark at times, but for Hannah there were always uplifting moments waiting for her. This is a terrific story of life and love but most importantly truth.Amazon Review
There are many tough subjects tackled in the novel, such as death and rape and leave you feeling deeply sorry for those affected by them. On the other hand the uplifting moments are brilliantly written and empathy invoking leaving you with a warm contented feeling.S Dexter
If you like an engaging story with characters that draw you in you’ll love this book! Helene gives us a description of real life with its high points and its challenges. The intimacy of the events that unfold creates emotion and also makes you think about the issues. Some of the stories within the story are painful but ultimately this is about survival, handling what life throws at you and becoming stronger.Amazon Review
A good debut novel with strong characters and an interesting story line that takes you through Hannah’s life. Being set between London and Malmo gives it extra interest and its clear the author knows both cities. A variety of interesting themes are covered and the plot hs an arc that reaches a solid conclusion at the end – no irritating loose ends. Interested to see what the author produces next.Amanda Napper
Some of the scenes were very uncomfortable to read. However, I found the book as a whole very readable and enjoyed the sense of time and being with people through a large part of their lives, it was powerful to read about situations that many authors would shy away from.Mrs Average Evaluates
Great book for by the pool or the beach. A decade by decade stroll through fashion and cultures, switching from England to Sweden with Jewish cuisine on the side. A story about life and loves – and why are the bad boys always more exciting?Amazon Review