The Soulmate tells the tale of married couple who have recently relocated to a cliffside home overlooking the pacific ocean. There is only one drawback to their panoramic view: the drop. The drop is where people who reach the end of their tether decide to end their lives. Gabe has become a local celebrity by intervening and helping these lost souls find the will to go on, and his wife, Pippa, couldn’t be prouder. Together with their two children, they seem to have an idyllic life by the sea.
That is, until Gabe fails in his quest to save the latest visitor to the drop. Police start probing, and holes in Gabe’s story begin to rapidly appear.
Much in the way of Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca, not all is as it seems in this house by the sea.
As this novel slowly unspools itself, we learn that beneath the surface of this nuclear family is a great deal of strife and drama. Themes of infidelity, mental health, and the lies we tell ourselves reveal the truth. Nothing is quite as it seems.
While there is a lot of twisty drama (maybe a bit too much, if I’m honest), the dilemma at the heart of this novel engaged me wholly. The doomed idea of a soulmate, someone who you intertwine your life with in every way, someone who you cannot breathe without. Our protagonist, Pippa, is in love with Gabe to her detriment. She shields him, protects him, loves him as a father to their daughters, but deep down this is a toxic affair. What she deems as protective, is enabling. What she justifies as loyalty, is perjury. What she claims is love, is co-dependence.
I also found it refreshing for a novel like this to focus on the mental health struggles of Gabe, a male. He is human and flawed, without being demonised. Though obviously dramatized, the dilemma at the heart of The Soulmate was a balanced telling of something that is all too common in suburbia. After all, most marriages explicitly include vows ‘for better and for worse’…
This was my first Sally Hepworth and I will definitely read another. Overall, I’ll give this 4 silver USB keyrings out of 5.