If there is ever a book to transport you to a different time and place, Fatal Inheritance is the one, you just have to look at that stunning cover!
Eve Forrester is living a somewhat unfulfilling life as a housewife in post war Britain. Her husband Clifford has his own business, he comes home to their small house in Sutton, reads the paper and to finish the day more often than not he turns his back on her in bed. Eve is one of those unfortunate women who have jumped out of the frying pan into the fire as she is trying to escape her hypercritical mother.
One day the postman delivers a letter, it’s from a solicitor who summons her to London to discuss a mysterious inheritance from a man she has never heard of, Guy Lester. Clifford of course is less than impressed to have to take a day off work to accompany his wife for this very important meeting, and he is positively aggrieved when it is proposed that his wife goes to Cannes to find out more. Eve however is up for an adventure…
This is a story that can be read on a number of levels. It explores the lives of women who have lived through the worst of times. They were the generation that had to mourn the loss of so many men, in Eve’s case there is a lost love and a lack of suitable men to fill his place which is why she settled on Clifford. The book brilliantly contrasts the lack of colour in England at this time with rationing still in force with the brilliance of the Riviera but doesn’t neglect to bring in the more shadowy side of the region’s recent history including the influence of the Nazis. It is also a story about inheritance and memories, of secrets and lies but most of all the spreading of one woman’s wings. All the individual elements are excellently and realistically portrayed which in turn makes the sum so much richer than expected.
Through her story we get to experience the opening up of Eve’s world. The book is full of glamour with film stars, writers and artists all making up the population of Cannes. Rachel Rhys gracefully documents the clothes worn by Eve’s more glamorous friends while seamlessly illustrating that fine clothes and fancy houses don’t necessarily make for a more fulfilled life. And, although there are of course some characters who may not qualify for the nicest on the planet, this story has some who seem genuinely lovely and manage to impart some lessons in how to get the most out of life, neatly balancing out the others.
At the heart though there is a solid mystery to drive the narrative forward and so as taken as I was with the characters, the descriptions of places, people and relationships, it was this that kept my mind busy as every possible solution was ruled out by a new piece of information. I’m pleased to say the actual answer was not only satisfying, it was perfectly revealed and I’m so glad the author allowed us to catch up with many of the characters at a point in the future, rounding the book off brilliantly.
I want to say a huge thank you to Tammy Cohen (aka Rachel Rhys) and Alison Barrow, on behalf of Doubleday who arranged for me to read a copy of Fatal Inheritance ahead of publication today, 26 July 2018. I am loath to say it since I won an auction dear to my heart which meant that my name appeared in Rachel Rhys’s first historical novel A Dangerous Crossing, but this book is equally as good, if not better…