I’ve had this book for a fair bit of time but started reading it recently. It was suspenseful and kept me turning the page, one of those light reads you can enjoy on holiday or on a long journey.
Cecilia Fitzpatrick is a happily married housewife, who stumbles upon a terrible secret. One day while she is going through some old boxes she finds a letter from her husband, with an ominous message ‘Only to be opened after my death’. The secret that he has kept, has the potential to ruin not only his families life but that of other people in the tight knit community. Rachel Crowley is an elderly woman who is still grieving for her daughter Janie who was murdered when she was a teenager. Tess O’Leary is a married mother who has also found out some heartbreaking news; her husband has fallen in love with someone else. Tess immediately packs her things and goes to her mothers, and this is where all the women’s stories entwine. With an age old unsolved murder plaguing the town and everyone keeping their own secrets, it makes for a gripping read.
What I enjoyed:
- The mystery – This isn’t a slow burn book by any means, we’re not left wondering who the murderer is for the majority of the novel. We learn the truth fairly early on and it’s more about the effects this revelation has on the characters and their small world. Usually I like to be kept guessing and figuring it out myself, like in The Girl on The Train for instance, but I enjoyed the dramatic irony, reading about certain characters who were unaware of the murderer in their midst.
- Focus on female characters – The three main characters or voices in the novel are female and they were all different and complex. I didn’t necessarily even like or relate to all three, but nevertheless they were interesting and I think a good character doesn’t always have to be likeable. For example, Rachel is a really bitter and critical character at times, but there’s something deeper to her as we see her suffering through her intense grief and inability to put the past behind her which I liked reading about? in an odd way.
- The ending – no spoilers but it was certainly very unconventional, I liked it though. I know not everyone will feel the same way but I felt like it fit the nature of the book and these characters very well.
What could have been improved:
- The book was a bit slow at times, noticeably at the start and a few places after that where I felt like the plot could have been moved along faster.
- Loose ends – There were some elements of the story that could have been explored more but I appreciate that this is kind of realistic as in everyday life not everything has closure or resolution, sometimes things just happen.
- The bits about the Berlin Wall felt unnecessary and didn’t really add much for me, to be honest I skimmed over those parts.
- Attitudes towards women / appearances – I found the age old ‘women are inherently bitchy’ air took away from the book a lot. Instead of finding a solidarity, the women seemed guarded and pitted against each other at every stage. The way that appearances were deemed so central. Felicity ( Tess’s cousin) was only valued after she lost weight and became ‘beautiful’, it’s a damaging attitude and simply untrue.
In conclusion, I’d probably not read this book again, while it did have some intriguing elements, it was lacking a certain something.
If you’ve read this book, what did you think?
Until next time,