If I'd seen this book on the shelf in Waterstones, the cover may well have attracted me to find out more even if it had been in the woman's fiction area and not something I would usually pick up. I wasn't sure what to expect to be honest, but I'm delighted to say I was more than pleasantly surprised.
The central theme of the story is secrets and lies. How one deception leads intrinsically to another, and the author does a very competent job showing that the sins of the parents do echo down into the lives of their offspring.
Klara Mortimer has had a difficult childhood. Not difficult in the clichéd sense of the word, but difficult as she was raised without the love and protection of a mother. And the feeling that her mother's disappearance has never been fully explained, leads to a multitude of insecurities in adulthood. When an anonymous letter containing a key arrives, Klara is led into a journey back into her mother's life and discovers truths she would have preferred remain secret. Her spiralling obsession into finding answers takes her to some dark places, where she begins to believe her whole life has been a sham and she can trust no one. She turns against her husband, Mark - and her father, Henry who she feels has betrayed her in his desire to protect her.
It's clear that her mother, a model who renamed herself simply `Sadie' lived a rollercoaster life in 1950s London. But the hazy memories Klara has of Sadie before she disappeared, and the stories her father has related over the years, do not seem to tie up with the discoveries she makes about her mother. The reader is compelled to turn the page, sharing Klara's need for the truth, and the conclusion of the story was unexpected, emotive and satisfying.
Jess Ruston has a real gift of creating believable, sympathetic characters, that even if we don't actually `like' them, we feel a connection with their lives and a need to hear their story. Her writing is well-crafted, well-paced, and the attention to detail and ability to examine the dark side of people and situations, gives depth both to the story and the characters. She is also able to deliver a complex and gripping storyline which twists and turns enough to hook even the most difficult reader.This is the first book I've read by this author, but I look forward to reading more of her complex family thrillers.