national Arts Festival Banner

Thursday, April 8, 2021


Lesley Kara provides what could be described as a vast jigsaw as she skilfully weaves the past and present together. (Review by Caroline Smart)

In her latest novel, The Dare, Lesley Kara has created a fascinating and compelling story of a young woman, Lizzy Molyneux, who is haunted by the past and then, when things are all looking rosy, her life begins to turn into a further nightmare.

Lizzie grew up suffering from epilepsy and the trauma of numerous seizures. Now responding well to medication she seems free of these problems. However, an incident from her schooldays continues to haunt her.

In July 2007, Lizzie and her closest friend Alice Dawson go on their usual walk. While their parents think they are going to the local park, they actually follow their favourite route which is through a hedge, over a little stream, across a field with a scarecrow, a line of poplars, over six stiles and, finally, the open crossing of the railway line. They wait until they hear the tracks sing and count the seconds till the train hurtles by.

On this particular day, they have a row and Alice flounces off ahead of her as the train approaches. Then Lizzie has an epileptic attack and when she eventually comes round, the train has stopped and there’s no sign of Alice. Except that there is. Part of her has been thrown into a tree. Alice was obviously hit by the train and dismembered … and Lizzie is unable to remember anything.

The book moves from 2007 and events thereafter to the present when Lizzie is now happily living with Ross, a man she loves. They have just moved into a house together and she hopes that they will soon be married.

Ross is a GP and knows and understands her condition so he treats her with gentleness and care. Then one day he mentions that he has a new practice nurse and it seems that he is spending more time with her than would seem to be professionally normal. Without telling Lizzie, he invites her to their housewarming party. Lizzie recognises her with horror as being Alice’s older sister, Catherine, who was particularly spiteful and hateful to Lizzie after Alice’s death, blaming her for her younger sister’s death.

Lesley Kara provides what could be described as a vast jigsaw as she skilfully weaves the past and present together. Lizzie is dealt with one memory blow after another and life is made more complicated when she discovers that she is carrying Ross’s child.

She starts delving into the past without Ross’s knowledge and the reader is made aware of a dastardly plot which leaves Lizzie helpless and susceptible to a recurrence of her epileptic problems.

Well-written with a good sense of the dramatic, the chapters alternate between the present and the past, giving the reader the ability to build up the history as it goes along.

The Dare is published by Penguin Random House. ISBN: 9781787633247 – Caroline Smart