This book was compelling reading although at times I wanted to do so from behind a cushion as every parent’s nightmare unfolds over 256 pages. This book is almost understated in tone but beware it is full of raw emotions and drills into your mind making it a book that you won’t easily forget.
I was instantly dragged into memories of summer days sat on the beach entertaining children with rock pools and sandcastles. For Olivia’s mother Maggie she felt hurt when her daughter spurned her attention and wanted to look in the rock pools with her father Colin and big brother Joe, with the Cornish beach empty she makes her way across to them and Maggie pours herself a cup of coffee and waits for them to return for biscuits. When the Colin and Joe make their way back there is the awful realisation that Olivia is missing. Colin’s reaction isn’t sugar-coated, he is furious with his wife and when the search finds no trace of the little girl he goes with his son to his parent’s house leaving Maggie to wait for the return of her daughter.
A few weeks later teacher Katie who is preparing her classroom for the infants starting at the private school where she works, she’s a little nervous and easily intimidated by the mothers who look like they’ve stepped out of glamorous magazines but soon she has sufficiently worried about Hailey Marshall to visit her mother. Disturbed by the lack of feeling Jennifer Marshall shows her young daughter she talks to her colleagues who soon reassure her that with Jenifer Marshall pregnant with twins and her husband Peter away caring for his sick grandmother that hormones and tiredness are the most likely cause.
In this clever story it is easy to work out exactly what Jennifer’s problem is and as the story drags you along through difficult scene after scene it felt like watching a slow-motion car crash. I knew the fall-out would be enormous but kept reading to find out who for. The plot is audacious but keeps to just the right side of believable when you take everything the author tells us into account. The story is told from the three women’s points of view; Maggie, Jennifer and Katie all mull over their feelings as they try to make sense of what is happening. I did find the narrative a little lacking in interaction and conversation due to this introspection but given the nature of the storyline it served well in adding to the tension which mounts until the superb ending.
I’d like to thank Legend Press for giving me a copy of this novel in return for this honest review and since I haven’t read Linda Huber’s debut novel, The Paradise Trees, it has gone onto my list of books I must have.
Warning – Parents don’t read this book at the beach particularly if you need to keep an eye on the children!