This book is very much about relationships, but in a setting with sinister undertones. The very ordinariness of happenings in the introducing chapter allows the following chapters to slowly build tension edged with something initially unknown but seemingly sinister.
The book deals well with the nature of loss and grief, without a sentimental overlay and through an interior narrative the lead protagonist understands as truth. It is what goes on beneath the surface here that drives this apparently gentle story. The true nature of events begins in curiosity, develops into suspicion that becomes what outsiders see as an unhealthy obsession, and finally reveals the sad, dreadful truth.
I loved the detail of the renovation work on the house and the way Linda Acaster uses these mundane activities to slowly reveal an event that develops into something both frightening and heart-breaking.
The interaction between the main character and those she meets voluntarily or through need is described with empathy and wisdom. There is much emotional content here but not a drip of sentimentality.
As the denouement proceeds, and the several threats develop, the reader is drawn into a world of intrigue, doubt, suspicion, concern, and compassion. All characters are well observed and conveyed superbly on the page, so that it is easy to empathise with them, except, perhaps, the perpetrator, with whom it would be very difficult for any normal person to sympathise.
I’ve read a number of books by this author and always enjoyed them. This is undoubtedly one of her very best.
[Any review is a personal opinion. No reviewer can represent the view of anyone else. The best we can manage is an honest reaction to any given book.]