‘I don’t think I’ve ever read a more assured or compelling debut. This is beautifully written, sometimes sad, often funny’ — Elly Griffiths
Welcome to the dark heart of the family – the secrets we keep, the memories we treasure and the relationships we feel bound to, but long to escape.
Edward and Isobel haven’t spoken for years and live on opposite sides of the Atlantic. When their mother, Mary, dies unexpectedly, they are thrown together to sort through the family home. With Julie, Edward’s diffident but devoted girlfriend, making an awkward third, each stumbles through the practicalities and funeral preparations, trying to make sense of their emotions and their feelings towards one another.
Then Isobel makes a disturbing discovery and her fateful decision has consequences for them all, challenging their beliefs about the past, hopes for the future, and understanding of Mary’s role in keeping them at once apart and together.
This utterly immersive novel is rich with insightful and wickedly comic observations of family members behaving badly in stressful situations – of sibling rivalries, a parent torn between the two, and a grieving process that takes time to unfold.
Beginning in a small coastal town during the Spring Bank Holiday, the novel moves forward through the point of view of each of the characters in turn, and culminates on Christmas Eve.