Book Review: Halfway House, Helen Fitzgerald

Book Review: Halfway House, Helen Fitzgerald

Halfway House, Helen Fitzgerald

Fiction: Halfway House, Helen Fitzgerald


Lou is ready to start over. Coming off of a relationship with an older married man, she is leaving Australia and moving in with her cousin in Edinburgh, Scotland. That’s just what the doctor ordered: a new city, a new part of the world, a new job, and her old life left behind.

There is one major problem with moving away to start over. You have to bring yourself, and if you are your biggest problem, well, it may not work so well.

Halfway House is quite a conundrum for me to review. One part is easy: it’s a really good book. The plot is full of twists and turns that, despite some foreshadowing early on, surprised me when they happened. The hard part is that Lou is a very unsympathetic character, at least for most of the book. She is a liar. She has few sexual boundaries: married men, almost total strangers, outside, even…well, spoilers. She is selfish and lacks self control. I try not to judge, especially not fictional characters, but I really did not care for her. Until I did.

When Lou arrives in Edinburgh she almost immediately begins a sexual relationship with a man she meets in a theater. Tim is older, well-dressed, intelligent, and may be as daring as Lou is. They engage in a torrid affair, only briefly interrupted when Lou discovers that Tim is living in a halfway house for convicts working to return to life out of jail. The brief interruption comes because Lou’s new job is on the night shift at the halfway house. The men there all have serious criminal convictions: sexual assault, statutory rape, assault and burglary and murder. And Tim, her Tim, is one of those men.

I will just say that although many of Lou’s problems are of her own creation, she gets put into a situation that she is unprepared for. I am not sure anyone would be ready for it. After a one-night training session, she is left to cover the night shift by herself. A 23-year-old woman, brand new to the country, alone with violent criminals all night with no backup. It is a dangerous setup, and indeed danger arrives.

Rather brilliantly, Fitzgerald puts Lou into two halfway houses, each of which shape her choices. Her cousin leases a house that is constantly filled with artists and vagabonds she has taken in. At one point, Lou is not only sharing a room with a strange man, but another man is given a mattress on the floor between the two beds. Although it is not a halfway house by definition, it is a way station for people in transition. This living situation stresses Lou intensely. It also, unfortunately, gives her far too much confidence in dealing with the men at the other halfway house.

Our thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things for our copy of Halfway House, given so we could write an honest review. The opinions here are solely those of Scintilla. For other perspectives on this novel, check out the other bloggers on this tour.


Halfway House, Helen Fitzgerald

Book Review: Halfway House, Helen Fitzgerald

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