A novel of obsession, betrayal, and loneliness, Watching Edie recounts the experiences of two young women, from their teenage years (ďBeforeĒ) and early 30s (ďAfterĒ).
Their lives weave tightly in a web of friendship, loss, and rage, the past a miasma that hovers unmoving as they unexpectedly encounter one another years later. Their story slips and slides from Edie to Heather, the truth elusive until circumstances drive them to a final reckoning, tortured pasts laid bare, private anguish finally exposed to the light of day.
Meeting at school, the pair are unique in their differences. Edie, pretty and popular, surprisingly warms to the overweight social outcast, Heather usually spurned and scorned by the popular girls. Edie is attracted to the completely guileless Heatherís lack of pretention. Headed toward a career in medicine that burdens her already weighted soul, Heather is ecstatic that Edie, who dreams of art school in London far from their small West Midlands town of Fremton, chooses her for a companion and confidante, a refreshing surprise in a life already touched by family tragedy. Itís not surprising that Heather should give her heart to Edie, imagining a world made brighter by thoughts of them as best friends forever.
The loss is all the more painful for Heather when Edie falls in love with Connor, an older boy who supplants the girlish friendship, a reality made evident as Edie falls deeper under his spell. There is no place in Connorís world for Heather, a world filled with drugs, risk, and spontaneous violence, a flat in the local estates where his followers gather. Edie canít resist the temptation of either Connorís sexual magnetism or the chance to stay by his side. When Edie begs Heather to go along as a sort of buffer between potential danger and an avenue of escape, Heather cannot refuse, though she is acutely aware that she is only tolerated by Connor and his boys. Both are caught up in the evolving drama, Edie unable to let go of Connor, Heather hoping to protect her friend. Neither is prepared for the collision of love and hate or the dark secret that hangs above them years later when Heather locates Edie in a London flat and asks for a meeting.
At 33, Edie is a different person than the wild girl devoted to a handsome, cruel boyfriend, blinded by love and obsession. She has left the bitter memory of Heather and Fremton behind, seeking anonymity in a teeming city. Expecting a child from a random coupling, Edie reluctantly meets with Heather, who seems remarkably unchanged from the outcast girl she once befriended. Unfortunately, the natural relationship they once shared remains elusive until circumstances dictate otherwise, and the two are bound once more in a fateful dance, their tales still unresolved.
The author brilliantly builds her troubled characters on the ashes of their past, the ugly truth still unspoken, the current incarnation of the two women tentative and volatile. Only baby Maya provides a ray of hope, the promise of a different future. Inhabiting a lonely existence, relying on mutual need in an indifferent city, the former friends are drawn into a harrowing drama of potential violence, a denouement that shatters secrets, a precious baby girl the only hope for the healing of hearts in a different future.