This contemporary novel of a complex net of relationships has a certain power; beautifully written, it has the capacity to draw the reader into following the four major characters with its empathy and understanding. Pearson has created a world in which the houses and flats the characters inhabit form a series of settings for the open events and the secret actions of enormous significance in four lives and those that interact with them. Michael, Emily, Josephine and Jack are drawn together in a variety of ways, sometimes openly, sometimes secretly, but always powerfully. This is a book which proceeds relentlessly to a climax where there is no going back, only forwards into a world in which nothing will ever be the same. I found this book easy to read, genuinely empathetic, and difficult to put down. I was grateful to be given the opportunity to read and review this compelling book.
The book opens on the day that Emily marries Michael. She is bewildered by the choices she has made, uncertain that the vows she is making are really what she feels. Michael, on the other hand, is in no doubt; he openly adores Emily and has done for several years. He has wanted this since he met the beautiful Emily, and he has always tried hard not to frighten her away with his determination to spend the rest of his life with her. Emily seeks out her sister Josephine with whom she has a seemingly unbreakable link forged out of their mother’s desertion of them and flight to the other side of the world, even if it did happen when they were adults. Neither of them knew their fathers as Emily’s father died very young, and Josephine’s father was a married man who broke off the relationship. As the young women are so close Michael realises that he must share his new wife to a certain extent. Jack is in a new relationship with Josephine, in which they are unsure of the depth of their feelings. Damaged and wary, Jack soon realises that the sisters’ relationship is special, and if he follows his desires nothing will ever be the same again. As the four meet and spend time together, some deep relationships are already there, but what will now happen?
This is a book which achieves much in a dynamic way. The network of relationships between four people not only change and develop, but there are significant effects on those who are on the outside of the quartet. An effortlessly contemporary tale, the emotional truth of the writing is so revealing that the characters feel real. While I did not always agree with the characters’ actions, the fact that I tried shows how real they felt. No character has all the answers, just like in real life, and this is a memorable tale on many fronts. The subtitle “A Sister’s Love, A Wife’s Betrayal, A Woman’s Obsession” gives some clues as to where this book will take you; but it is certain that it will be more complex than you first imagine.
This book is a great contrast to my previous review of “The Earl’s Runaway Governess” in some ways, but in other ways people are the same whether in Regency England or twenty first century Britain. Just to prove that reading can take you to so many different places!