Lydia opens her diary, picks up her pen and prepares to commit her sins to its pages. Overwhelmed by her illness she finishes her entry by stating ‘A good mother loves fiercely but ultimately brings up her children to thrive without her. They must be the most important thing in her life, but if she is the most important thing in theirs, she has failed.’ These words underpin the rest of one of the darkest stories I have read.
Set over a weekend from 1st to 3rd November 2013 Lydia’s family get together at Far Barn in Saxby, Devon to spread her ashes. Lydia’s husband Rowan, her adult children Sophie, Tara and Felix gather together along with an assortment of partners and offspring. Without a television or mobile signal and only a tape deck and record player for music being at Far Barn is like going back in time and that is without the family memories of former holidays. The scene is set for a claustrophobic weekend where the consequences of the past make themselves known. When Felix’s new girlfriend disappears with Sophie’s baby on bonfire night the secrets of the past come tumbling out with each character having a part to play in this well-crafted story.
This was a riveting read with carefully presented twists along the way. Erin Kelly showcases her talents as a master of plotting. The characters that inhabit the pages of this book were distinct and when revelations were made about them these assimilated with previous knowledge with no jarring at all.
This is right up there as one of the best books I have read this year; I’d go as far as to say Barbara Vine has a rival.
Erin Kelly is the author of two other books both of which I thoroughly enjoyed
Her next book, The Ties That Bind, is due to be published by Hodder next May, which I am really looking forward to.
Learn more about Erin Kelly and her books on her website.