Review of Tangled Lives by Hilary Boyd



Annie Delancey is happily married with three grown children. But she guards a secret. Aged eighteen she had a baby boy, and gave him up for adoption.

Out of the blue, she receives an official-looking letter from Social Services. Her son wants to make contact.

As the son she has never known comes back into her life, his presence begins to expose the cracks in the family that Annie now has to try, desperately, to hold together.


It is loosely based on a close friend’s experience which haunted me for years. The details are different, yet a baby was given up.


I’ve had my eye on Tangled Lives for quite some time now so when I spotted it in my local The Works, I treated myself before Christmas.

The prologue is set in Kent, 1967 and it is a very simple and straightforward opening which allows the rest of the novel to be exactly the same. With Hilary’s style of writing, readers know what they’re getting – simple yet effective words on the page. There is certainly no holding back when it comes to the plot. The readers dive head first into Annie’s secret and it’s incredible to see how it all unfolds. The build up to meeting her son is highly anticipated with a heavy dose of anxiety which seeps through the pages.

It was fascinating to read of how Annie’s husband and other children reacted to the new addition to the family and once it all unfolded, it surprised me to see who would react in a positive light and who wouldn’t. The unexpected heartbreak for Annie allows the readers to draw closer towards her. If any, as a reader, I felt more protective of her as a main character.

For me, Chapter 21 was a surprising part of the narrative yet it was beautifully written. There were no clues in the plot so it was a complete surprise. But for me, it was the icing on a very delicate cake.

Twitter: @HilaryBoyd