Penguin paperback, 340 p.
Longlisted for the Orange Prize, 2005
When two children drown (Not a spoiler- this is the opening scene) on an idyllic summer afternoon in 1958, the community of Cameldip is left haunted by the tragic loss. And parents Isabel and Robert suffer a grief that is as devastating as it is unrelenting.At the beginning I had to flip back a few times to remind myself of who was who but once I was familiar with all the characters I really enjoyed how the story slowly unravelled and the different strands came together. I think Wastvedt did a good job at setting the atmosphere. Throughout I couldn’t shake the eerie feeling that something bad might happen at any time yet I was never quite expecting the things that did happen. I think the quote from The Times on the back sums it up nicely: ‘Full of brooding sadness, right up to the unexpected horror of the ending’. For a debut novel I think she’s done well and I look forward to her next book.
Thirty years later, Anna arrives in Cameldip, fleeing city life and her own disappointments. She does not tell anyone that she is pregnant. Anna goes to live with Isabel and unwittingly begins to unravel ties of guilt and betrayal held close for many years. When the baby arrives, powerful feelings of loss and heartbreak begin to surface and Anna is forced to ask whether Isabel’s feelings towards the baby are entirely benign.
My Rating: 3.5/5
(#38 for 2007)
Interview with the author HERE.
Discussion of the book begins today at Reading Matters.