What a great book! I really enjoyed this novel and I am thinking this is an author to keep an eye on.
In 1933, on a beautiful summer evening in Cornwall, England, Eleanor and Anthony Edevane are hosting their annual midsummer party on their estate. The name of the estate is Loeanneth. It is their summer home, inherited from Eleanor's mother Constance.
But, sometime around midnight, tragedy strikes. And thus the beginnings of a terrible secret.
Their 16 year old daughter Alice is an aspiring author of mysteries. She has fallen in love with one of her parents' gardners, a young man named Ben Munro. But she knows that her mother would never approve!
That night, when her adorable 11 month old baby brother Theo is presumed kidnapped, Ben disappears! No one has seen him. Not Deborah, the oldest daughter, not Clementine, the youngest daughter and not Alice. The nanny was sound asleep, a bit drunk from alcohol. Everyone else was down at the garden watching the fireworks display. To make matters worse, Eleanor's beloved friend Mr Lewellyan has been found dead..apparently from a suicide of overdosing on prescription pills.
Shortly after the disappearance of Theo, after many searches of the lake, the pond, the woods, etc, the Edevane family packs up and moves permenantly to London.
Seventy years later, in 2003, a young female detective, Sadie Sparrow, is on leave from her job. She has botched up an investigation of a missing woman who left behind a 3 year old little girl. Sadie's boss has told her to take some time off so she goes to visit her grandfather, Bertie at his home in Cornwall.
As she is out running one morning, she comes across the Edevane estate. She is curious so goes exploring. Once she learns about the missing baby boy, she becomes very interested in trying to solve the puzzle of what happened. She decides to get in touch with one of the remaining Edevanes: Alice.
Alice is now an 86 year old woman living in London and has been a very sucessful author of mystery books featuring a detective named Diggory.
As Sadie begins to explore Alice's past, Alice begins to re-visit all the memories of her childhood. And discovers that there really are more secrets to her family.
What they begin to uncover involves love, loss, bitter regrets and a very difficult sacrifice that changed a family forever.
This was most excellent in the way of character development, setting and mystery.
One thing I absolutely did not like was the way the book ended. I don't want to reveal what exactly happened to Theo (my hunch about HOW the baby disappeared was correct but the way the author decided to write where he ended up is not what I expected nor did I really like it). It was too perfect of an ending. A bit far-fetched although very "romantic". I felt myself rolling my eyes at it...it was just too "sweet".
I loved the theme running throughout the story about what mothers will do to protect the children they love. Sometimes mothers have to make the most difficult decisions...I just loved how this was played out in the story.
I started out loving Alice but half way through the book I found my self getting irritated by her...by the end of the book I liked her again.
Another thing that totally bugged me was that 70 years later, when Alice goes back to Loeanneth for the first time since she was 16, she finds her way through the woods to a box she buried the night Theo goes missing. I'm sorry but 70 years later, those woods would be all built up and it would NOT be a clear walk to the spot. Little things like that bug me!! Woods definitely change over the years! Especially because the author's description of the estate was one of neglect and disuse.
The book goes back and forth between 2003 and 1933 and even a little bit further back...back to when Eleanor and Anthony were children. That was probably my most favorite part.
The character Constance was formidable and I just did NOT like her but then again we the readers are not supposed to like her. I didn't see one part of her place in the story coming and it totally surprised me....and it was brilliant! Again, I don't want to reveal what that is as it will spoil it for you.
This book was just such a great read. I highly recommend it if you like mystery with some romance and deep family plots.
In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 14 and older.
On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 9.