Title: The House of Now and Then
Author: Jo Dixon
Published: January 4th 2023
Publisher: HQ Fiction – AU
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Domestic, Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
You should leave the past in the past … or should you? A vividly told, jaw-droppingly twisty and wholly engaging story about the consequences of discovering the truth. For readers of Sally Hepworth, Nicola Moriarty and Adele Parks.
After a humiliating public scandal, Olivia is hiding from the press in a remote Tasmanian house when an unknown man knocks on her door, seeking Pippa, a woman who once lived there. His father, Jeremy, has died, leaving behind a letter for this mysterious woman. Olivia wants to help, but can she risk revealing her own sordid past?
Thirty years earlier, bohemian wild-child Pippa and her best friend Jeremy spend a perfect summer in the house. Pippa falls deeply in love with local boy Leo, and they begin to plan a life of adventure together, much to the displeasure of his conservative and controlling family. One night Leo leaves the house to confront his parents … and is never seen again.
As Olivia is drawn into solving the mystery, the unexpected and tragic story of Pippa, Jeremy and Leo is slowly uncovered. At the same time, a path to reclaiming her own life opens, if only she has the courage to take it.
The House of Now and Then is the startling debut release from Australian author Jo Dixon. A beguiling mystery, filled with captivating but damaged characters who make fatal errors of judgement, The House of Now and Then is a swirling tale of locked secrets.
A story of how the past has the ability to leave a strong stain on us, despite the passage of time, The House of Now and Then follows Olivia in 2017. We learn that Olivia has been forced to seek refuge in the tranquil rural surrounds of a house in the Tasmanian countryside, following a scandal. When a stranger knocks on Olivia’s door, looking for a past resident of Olivia’s current abode, Olivia feels compelled to help this man find the person he is seeking. However, in providing assistance to this mystery man, Olivia knows she must sacrifice her hidden past. Tracing back to three decades earlier, The House of Now and Then relays the story of Pippa, a free spirit, and her loyal friend Jeremy. We learn about the unforgettable summer season that saw this reckless young woman embark on romance with a local boy. Pippa and Leo’s summer romance results in a grand plan to travel together, which earns the distain of Leo’s traditionalist parents. When Leo takes a stand and defies his parents, he vanishes without a trace. Olivia is compelled to finally crack this thirty-year-old mystery. This cathartic act leads Olivia to consider what she truly wants in life, but is she brave enough to embrace a new life path? When the truth is revealed, everything will change in The House of Now and Then.
2023 is already shaping up to be a superb reading year based on the range of books I have the pleasure of reading in January. The House of Now and Then is the second debut novel I have read this month and it is a standout one. I am very interested to see what Jo Dixon releases next. Thank goodness book two is on its way, which Jo Dixon has revealed to us via her author bio.
Dual timelines are my absolute favourite brand of fiction and this debut title from Jo Dixon immediately set my world on fire. Tracking the years 2017 and 1986, this fairly wide-ranging time period expansion was handled perfectly by Dixon. For a debut I was impressed by Dixon’s writing, it was immersive, vivid and looped. I usually find that one narrative or timeline rules over the other in double era novels, but this one is pretty even. I was happy to sit back and take in the action that occurs in both timelines. Expect just as many twists, turns, reveals and broken secrets in each year focus. Dixon has ensured that she balances out both narrative divisions well and she also makes a conscious effort to join them together in matrimony by the explosive close of the novel.
Character wise, The House of Now and Then is populated by an intriguing bunch of protagonists. I warmed to each of them and I was genuinely interested in how their lives came to be as this book made its winding journey. I was particularly engrossed with the events, characters and decisions made in the past sequence. I also attached myself to Olivia in the more current based story arc. Dixon takes a full and knowing approach to her characters. We are moved as much as they are emotionally as Dixon pits them against various trying situations in her unyielding double narrative. This honest, raw and achingly beautiful mode of storytelling was very much appreciated by this reader. I especially liked the mystery and thriller element too, it was well executed by Jo Dixon.
I’m very confident that the mesmerising double narrative technique, the engaging characters, emotional events and picturesque backdrop will lure readers into Jo Dixon’s The House of Now and Then.
The House of Now and Then by Jo Dixon was published on 4th January 2023 by HQ Fiction – AU. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of The House of Now and Then, Jo Dixon, visit here.
*I wish to thank Harlequin Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.