Escaping From the Shadows by C L Tustin
This is Anastasia’s story, told with surprises and a range of secrets revealed. She seems to have it all; she is attractive, vibrant and talented. Her father was a rock star, she moves in wealthy circles with a house in the country and Belgravia, London, and has wealthy friends. On the negative side, her mother died tragically when she was young, and her father abuses her in several ways. This is an intensely written, fast paced novel of a certain lifestyle in the late twentieth century, imaging the relationship between two or three families interconnected by obsession, attraction and jealousy. It revolves around Anastasia Travess and Piers Talbot, their special relationship against the background of his brothers and the remarkable events of a few months. It takes place in wonderful houses, nightclubs and similar venues, all described in striking terms. It all makes for a compelling read, which I found hard to resist one started. I found it an exciting novel, and I was pleased to have the opportunity to read and review this dramatic book.
The book opens with a desperate woman taking her small daughter with her in the night, driving her husband’s Bentley. It becomes obvious that leaving her husband is something that she has been pressed to do by her friends, concerned by her husband’s treatment of her. Exactly twenty years later that once small girl, Anastasia, reflects on her mother’s death during that desperate flight, and where that has left her with her father whose frequent affairs and cruelty have left her wishing to avoid him. As her favourite person, Piers, arrives at the house, she is overjoyed to see him despite the presence of her current boyfriend, Bryan Darnel. She is hosting a Christmas party, but not all the guests are welcome, including her own father and one of Piers’ brothers, Mark. Piers is worried for his own father, and when Anastasia’s relationship breaks down, he is aware that he must travel abroad for his work for extended periods, so asks if she has truly finished her relationship with Mark from several years before the events of this novel. He suggests that she gives him another chance. Their relationship soon becomes difficult, especially as there are many unresolved issues between them, including Piers’ long time connection with Anastasia. There are several other people on the scene, including two members of her father’s old band, one of whom is married to her godmother who knew her mother well. As the situation develops, unfortunate questions arise involving guilt and memories, obsession and secrets.
This is a book in which deep feelings spiral into violence, and the borderline between love and hate becomes very thin. It is fast paced, as a variety of places are the site of strange events, and people meet various challenges. It is a story of sibling rivalry and difficult family relationships, mixed with danger and recrimination. It is a complex story of a young woman dealing with life and love. I found it entertaining as it deals with the lives of the rich and within the novel, famous. This is a book which acknowledges that some relationships are about control and oppression, which can spiral into awkward and painful confrontations. It is an intense read.