I wanted to like this book. It seemed to promise so much, a Gothic tale of dark secrets and mystery.
Unfortunately, it failed to live up to its promise.
I won't precis the whole story here, as other reviewers have done that. Suffice to say, 17 year old heroine lives with awful Mother and lovely Aunt, until Aunt dies, and then Things Happen.
My main gripe is that the whole thing is so dull. The characters are dreary and formulaic; Mother has to be awful and religious, Aunt has to be free spirited, heroine has to be rebellious, mystery man's wife has to be mad etc. But worse than this it was just hard work reading the book. The language was way too overdone and clunky, you were always aware that you were reading, whereas with the best books, you are so into the story that you are not aware you are sat there reading - it's just all going on in your mind. With this book, I felt too bogged down with the language and the structure and the rather weak plotting.
And the central character, Phoebe, was a miserable little Madam. Come to think of it, they were all a pretty joyless bunch!
As I say, hard work.
So much so that, half way through, I realised I didn't care about any of them and didn't care what was going to happen to any of them.
So I gave it up, which I very rarely do. In this case, I felt there were much better books out there.