“A gripping concept powers this emotional, sinuous thriller in which one woman’s life is played out against what might have been.”

NO MAJOR SPOILERS

 

After the death of her mother, Bella returns to her childhood home to comfort her father, but the two have never really had a closeness to their relationship, and her father’s need to tell her something important and his inability to do so makes the distance feel like a chasm.

After another tragedy, Bella finds out things about her life and family that questions everything she has ever known to be true. She finds herself on a journey that takes her to the Cornish coast where she finds people who know more about her than she knows herself.

The descriptions of the the Cornish setting and the weather gives a claustrophobic feel to the book and a deep sense of foreboding infuses the narrative. The Old vicarage, Bella’s childhood home, exudes a malevolence that makes you feel sure that you would never walk through the door.

The depth to the characters in this book is phenomenal. Bella, who we follow as she stumbles through areas of her life that she never knew existed, trying to make sense of the decisions made on her behalf with barely a thought of the devastating ramifications. How she copes, how she struggles, how she feels; Bella is brought to life by Amanda Jennings in a way that touches the deepest part of you.

But the author doesn’t just concentrate on Bella, the other characters are just as well drawn; David, arrogant and controlling; the wonderful Dawn, a survivor, against all odds, trying her best to get through each day; Alice, living with an all-encompassing grief, the sort that rips your heart out and takes away your entire life; Henry and Elaine, the nuts and bolts of this piece; even the lovely Phil who gives Bella, and us, moments of light relief.

Amanda Jennings doesn’t flinch from the stark realities of people’s lives. She exposes the flaws and mistakes but in such an empathetic way that leaves us feeling less judgmental than perhaps would be the case in a lesser author’s hands.

This is a stunning story of heartbreak, identity, love and loss. It has the perfect title, the perfect cover and is the most beautifully written, breathtakingly powerful book.

I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Reviewed by:

Sandra Foy

Added 27th April 2016

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Sandra Foy

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