Review: We All Begin as Strangers by Harriet Cummings


4 stars


It’s 1984, and summer is scorching the ordinary English village of Heathcote.

What’s more, a mysterious figure is slipping into homes through back doors and open windows. Dubbed ‘The Fox’, he knows everything about everyone – leaving curious objects in their homes, or taking things from them.

When beloved Anna goes missing, the whole community believes The Fox is responsible.

But as the residents scramble to solve the mystery of Anna’s disappearance, little do they know it’s their darkest secrets The Fox is really after…


When I first saw this on Netgalley, I knew I had to read it. Loosely based on real life events and characters, this intrigued me. This has a mysterious character known as “The Fox” who breaks into peoples homes and watches them. This “Fox” person was real and struck the area I live in. Leighton Buzzard, St Albans, Tring and Dunstable and other surrounding areas were all in fear of this criminal, and in real life, he wasn’t a people watcher, he was a serial rapist. My step-dad grew up when The Fox was around so he is always recalling stories about the incidents and when I connected the dots to this book being about that particular “fox” I instantly requested it!

This started off a little slow for me, and I didn’t instantly love it, but it takes it’s time to grow on you and in the end I adored this. It is a little sombre throughout, but sometimes, that’s what makes a book so moving and great to read.

The atmosphere of the small village environment is absolutely spot on. I’ve lived in a number of small villages myself, and you do find that news travels fast, plus there is a certain distance put between locals and “outsiders”. For this novel, the hostile village atmosphere has most certainly been amplified, but you can definitely feel that static-y tension in the air if you have ever lived “village life”.

The writing in this novel is lovely. Very descriptive and picturesque. But where Cummings really shines in in her characters. Each one that we follow closely, Deloris, Jim, Brian and Stan, we become attached to, well, I did at least. You feel as though you know them and you get angry along with them, you sympathise for them and you cheer them on.

Even though I predicted the identity of The Fox, among other things, there are small twists in each person’s story that surprise you, so I was still in awe during most of the novel.

This book is marvelous. It’s sad, moving, witty and beautiful. Definitely try to get yourself a copy of it if you love books about trouble in small communities.

Buy it here: Amazon UK | Book Depository

Thanks to Netgalley and Orion Publishing Group for giving me the opportunity to read this in exchange for an honest review.

*Links are affiliate. I appreciate every one of you who purchase from my affiliate links ❤*

P.S. Don’t forget to enter my latest giveaway! Find the post here!

6 Replies to “Review: We All Begin as Strangers by Harriet Cummings”

  1. Wow the connection in between the book and real life is quite the hook in itself. I love reading fictional books that have those neat real life details.. even though, in this case, quite a harrowing one.
    The premise sounds interesting, will keep my eye out for this one 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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