Hello! We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming from my TJMaxx Winter Haul to a new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club. Today, we are going to be discussing All I Want by Darcey Bell, which was a book that I really enjoyed – until the end, that is. Of course, no spoilers will be given away but I will be placing a trigger warning on this book for disturbing content and psychological abuse. Now, let’s get to it:
Emma and Ben are a cool couple from New York City who share a flare for the creative. Ben is a successful Broadway producer and Emma was an art teacher before she got pregnant. With a baby on the way, and a long walk up to their apartment, Ben has developed a taste for the simpler things. He begins house hunting and finds an amazing property in the country formerly called Hideaway Home.
Hideaway Home doubled as a rehab or “dry out clinic” back in the fifties as well as a house for unwed mothers. Former Broadway stars would go there to get sober and the house even has a theater in it where they would sometimes perform for each other. The house fell into disrepair when the niece and nephews of the doctors who ran the facility inherited it and, essentially, spent their lives as hermits.
Needless to say, Hideaway Home is a “fixer upper” and while Ben is completely sold, Emma has second thoughts until she falls in love with the kitchen. With an extensive construction project to restore the property underway, Emma finds herself alone in the new house for a majority of the time as Ben has just began working on a new play back in the city.
As the days drag into each other with no one to talk to except the handsome leader of the renovation project, Emma finds herself wandering up to the attic. While not the safest space in the home, the attic is filled with remnants from its past, including a journal from an unwed mother who has a tale eerily similar to Emma’s own. She even calls her baby “Little Person” just like Emma.
Hallucinations, a fading memory, and isolation while her husband is away does Emma no favors, turning her tense and suspicious. She begins to think that Ben is having an affair with a plot to steal the baby after he or she is born. Unable to distinguish potential lies from the truth, Emma and those around her fear she might be spiraling into madness. Are Emma and her baby safe? And just who did she marry in the first place? Read All I Want to find out!
Before we delve deeper into my opinions on this thriller, let me first start out by saying how much I liked almost everything about it. The creepy house with a twisted backstory, Emma as a somewhat unstable narrator, and the nods to classic horror films like Gaslight, Rosemary’s Baby, and The Shining. This was all excellent and I deemed the book as “unputdownable”, finishing it in just three sittings.
I had Such. High. Hopes. for All I Want to be a ten star book but the final chapter ruined it for me. After reading other reviews for All I Want, a common theme was that many people pretended like the final chapter didn’t exist. I would love to be able to do this, but I just can’t. I will be the first to admit that the plot took some highly unlikely turns but it still worked and would have been totally fine, rather preferred, to the actual ending.
I am unsure as to why some authors feel the need to rock the boat with a finale that they probably know will disappoint many of the readers. Darcey Bell definitely falls into this category and I was left feeling like I kind of wasted my time. However, I will say that while I did figure some plot twists out, I would never have guessed the main one so I guess that’s good.
I am going to rate All I Want with a five out of ten stars. It received an average rating because I am so conflicted about it. I won’t say that it’s not worth reading because I still liked it well enough but I wouldn’t go out of my way to read it if there are other books on your list. Whomp whomp.
What are you currently reading? What should I read next? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah