Originally published: 14 April 2022
Author: Laure Van Rensburg
Published by: Michael Joseph
Length: 400 pages
Reading dates: 10-13 April 2022
Steven Harding is a handsome, well-respected professor.
Ellie Masterson is a wide-eyed young college student.
Together, they are driving south from New York, for their first holiday: three days in an isolated cabin, far from the city.
Ahead of them, the promise of long, dark nights – and the chance to explore one another’s bodies, away from disapproving eyes.
It should be a perfect, romantic trip for two.
EXCEPT THAT HE’S NOT WHO HE SAYS HE IS.
BUT THEN AGAIN, NEITHER IS SHE . . .
Nobody But Us starts with a bang beginning with the police arriving at a house, the walls and carpets stained red with blood. A shocking discovery for police who are more used to dealing with car wrecks and one which drew me in immediately.
Ellie is 23 and is a college student and is dating Steven, an English professor in his 50s. To celebrate their 6 month anniversary, Ellie surprises him by booking a couple of nights away in a beautiful secluded house in Chesapeake Bay. By the time they get there, the snow is falling fast and Ellie is jumpy, nervous of the seclusion and sounds the house makes.
The couple soon relax, exploring the area around the house in the snow and exploring each other knowing they are away from judging eyes…and that’s where I’m going to leave it!
I really enjoyed Nobody But Us. The narrative was interesting – we hear from Ellie in the first person, while Steven’s chapters are written in the third person – something I only realised around half way through. My initial thoughts about Steven were he was a bit of an arsehole – privileged with a sense of his own importance. Ellie I felt was weak and I wanted her to have some more self respect. I completely get there are couples with big age gaps but I felt Steven held all the power in their relationship and that is never a good thing (putting me in mind of My Dark Vanessa).
Nobody But Us was a completely thrilling and exciting read. The atmosphere is tense throughout, helped by the snow and the isolation of the house, and from those opening couple of pages, and left me wanting more. This clever and brutal book left my heart racing. A fantastic debut!
Thank you to Michael Joseph for my copy of the book and for introducing me to 2022’s most f*cked up couple!
About the author:
Laure Van Rensburg is a French writer living in the UK and an Ink Academy alumna. Her stories have appeared in online magazines and anthologies such as Litro Magazine, Storgy Magazine, The Real Jazz Baby (2020 Best Anthology, Saboteur Awards 2020), and FIVE:2:ONE. She has also placed in competitions including 2018 & 2019 Bath Short Story Award.
Her debut novel, Nobody But Us, follows Ellie and Steven who take their first trip away together, but what starts as an idyllic weekend soon takes a darker turn, as it quickly becomes apparent that each of them harbour secrets – and that one of those secrets is deadly.
Nobody But Us (originally titled The Downfall) was shortlisted for the 2019 First Novel Prize, 2019 Novel London Competition and 2019 Flash 500 Novel Opening. It will be published by Michael Joseph in April 2022 and has sold in fourteen territories, including Germany, Italy, Norway and the United States.
Laure’s current work in progress, Eden Lost, was longlisted in 2019 Exeter Novel Prize and more recently shortlisted in the 2020 Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize.