If you are looking for the perfect holiday read then this may just be it. Julia Crouch takes her readers on a journey to the island of Ikaria, taking in France and Athens on the way and the descriptions of the adventure Emma James is embarking on is extremely evocative especially with an adults perspective of what lone travelling can mean when everything you need has to be carted from one grotty hostel to the next. Set in 1981 Emma James is travelling alone, full of the bravado that only a sheltered eighteen year old can possess, especially when that young girl is determined to leave the northern town of Ripon behind, along with her boring parents and have an adventure before going to University with a tale to tell. Sadly the trip isn’t quite what she dreamed of and the events are set to change her life forever.
In the present Kate is the ‘Face of Kindness’ having set up a charity to help young girls in Africa, a charity born out of despair following the death of her young daughter Martha. Having conquered her fear of flying to visit a newly opened school she is back at home with her hedge fund manager husband Mark and teenage daughter Tilly. When Tilly announces she wants to go travelling Kate’s tenuous grip on normality begins to unravel but worse is still to come, a bit of her past comes bounding back into her life and choices must be made.
I love books that flip backwards and forwards through time particularly when the past is in the form of journal entries, and this one has the added distinction of the past being set during a trip where the life’s normal boundaries are different. I felt I was there with Emma, drinking at the tavern, sleeping on the roof and meeting new people feeling that she was following in the footsteps of her favourite writers. The spell was only momentarily broken when modern phrases crept into the journal that weren’t exactly authentic to the time it was set in, but I was able to forgive this and favour instead, the fast-moving plot and maternal feelings I felt for the young Emma, alone and unsure in a foreign land.
To enjoy this book you do have to leave some logic behind especially in relation to some of Kate’s decisions and I have to admit I guessed most of the outcome but I wasn’t quite sure enough that it spoilt my enjoyment of this fast-paced and disturbing book.
I was delighted to receive a free copy of this book from the publishers Headline ahead of the publication date of 19 June 2014 as I have read all this author’s previous novels.
Cuckoo – Psychological thriller set in the domestic setting. Polly comes to stay with Rose and her family and doesn’t seem to want to leave but not before strange things start happening.
Every Vow You Break – I wasn’t as convinced by this story with its setting New York. Marcus and Laura decide that a break will hep their marriage so travel with him while he works on a play.
Tarnished – An outstanding read which I was absorbed and repulsed by in equal measure. Read my review here