Afraid of the Light by Douglas Kennedy

Thank you to Megan at ED.PR for the invitation to read and review this book. Thank you to Hutchinson for a review copy of the book. Today is the last day of the blog tour – please check out the reviews of the other blogger too.


Brendan is an ordinary man; a married man and devoted father who has always tried to live his life well and do the right thing. Now, on the cusp of sixty and having lost his job after corporate downsizing, he is struggling to stay afloat in the only work on offer for a man his age – driving for Uber.

When one of his rides, a retired professor named Elise, asks to be dropped off outside an abortion clinic where she now volunteers, Brendan finds himself driving right into the explosive epicentre of one of the most polarised ethical issues of our time. As the religious and moral divisions deepen within his own family, everything about the life Brendan knew, starts to unravel. Will the unlikely friendship with Elise bring the possibility of a new life or does the ‘good guy’ never win?

The portrait of a man trying to navigate a world of division and anxiety, Afraid of the Light is a highly charged, plot-driven, deeply affecting social thriller that speaks to our troubled times.

My thoughts:

This is the first book I’ve read by Douglas Kennedy and it features an issue which has been debated for many years, and is dealt with differently depending on where you live in the world – abortion.

Brendan has ended up as an Uber driver after being made redundant at the age of 60, needing to earn money to support his wife who volunteers with a pro-life charity in Los Angeles. Having never used an Uber, this was an eye opener about how little money the drivers make.

Brendan delivers a passenger, Elise, to an abortion clinic, which is then firebombed and he witnesses the attack and the death of a guard. Elise asks him to drive her home, then he finds out more about her voluntary work talking to the patients. As he starts to become a regular driver for Elise, the actions of his daughter leave them all in danger.

This is a non spoiler review for a book covering a number of genres. It shows that the American Dream is just a dream for many ordinary people and that money can buy silence and people. I found this to be a tense read, with twists and a number of moral dilemmas. This would be an interesting book for a book club read because of the number of issues raised. Happy to recommend to readers of my blog.

Author Bio:

Random House raw

Douglas Kennedy is a masterful storyteller whose compelling and thought-provoking, moral and emotional page-turners have sold 15 million copies around the world.

Kennedy was born and raised in Manhattan and
educated at Bowdoin College and Trinity College Dublin.
He returned to Ireland in early 1977 and co-founded a theatre company, Dublin Stage One. Eighteen months later he was put in charge of the Abbey Theatre’s studio theatre, The Peacock. During his five-year tenure he began to write – selling his early radio plays to RTE and then to BBC Radio 4. He quit his post at The Abbey Theatre in 1983 to become a full- time writer and has lived by his pen since then. Kennedy was a columnist for the Irish Times and, in addition to four plays for BBC Radio 4, had a stage play, Send Lawyers Guns and Money, staged by The Peacock Theatre in 1984. His first book, Beyond the Pyramids: Travels in Egypt was published in 1988, the same year he moved to London. Two further narrative travel books followed: In God’s Country: Travels in the Bible Belt USA (1989) and Chasing Mammon: Travels in Pursuit of Money (1992).

In 1994 Kennedy’s first novel, The Dead Heart, was published, followed by The Big Picture (1997) which was an international bestseller, selling over three millions copies and publishing in twenty-two languages. His subsequent acclaimed novels include: The Job (1998), The Pursuit of Happiness (2001), A Special Relationship (2004), State of the Union (2006), The Woman in the Fifth (2007), Temptation (2008), Leaving the World (2009), The Moment (2011), Five Days (2014), The Heat of Betrayal (2016), The Great Wide Open (2019) and Isabelle in the Afternoon (2020). The Big Picture was filmed in France as ‘L’Homme Qui Voulait Vivre Sa Vie’, directed by Eric Lartigau and starring Romain Duris and Catherine Deneuve. The Woman in the Fifth was filmed by Pawel Pawlikowski, starring Ethan Hawke and Kristen Scott Thomas. He received a WH Smith Award for The Big Picture, the Prix Deaville for Temptation, and the first Grand Prix du Figaro for his body of work.

A celebrated writer in France, Douglas has sold over 8 million copies of his books there alone and is a fluent French speaker. In 2007, he was awarded the French decoration of Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He has also published a book of philosophy, All the Big Questions… With No Answers and two children’s books.

Douglas divides his time between Maine, Manhattan, Paris, London and Berlin and is available for interview and events.

Afraid of the Light by Douglas Kennedy is published by Hutchinson on 8th July 2021, price £12.99 paperback original.

Douglas is available for interview, events and to write features. For further information or review copies please contact Emma Draude or Annabelle Wright at ed public relations on /

By Karen K is reading

An avid reader from the age of 4. Love escaping into a good novel after a busy day working with students. Mum of teenagers. Adopter of dogs.

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