‘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 illusions of memory, and the relationships we feel bound to, but long to escape.
Siblings Edward and Isobel Vernon haven’t spoken in 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 Edward’s diffident but devoted girlfriend, Julie, making an awkward threesome, each stumbles through the practicalities of funeral preparation and house clearing, trying to make sense of their emotions and their feelings toward one another.
Isobel makes a disturbing discovery and her fateful decision has consequences for all of them, 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. It is a novel of sibling rivalries and relationships, the dilemma of a parent torn between the two, the untidiness of a sudden death 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.