What’s it all about?:
Nick and her cousin, Helena, have grown up sharing sultry summer heat, sunbleached boat docks, and midnight gin parties on Martha’s Vineyard in a glorious old family estate known as Tiger House. In the days following the end of the Second World War, the world seems to offer itself up, and the two women are on the cusp of their ‘real lives’: Helena is off to Hollywood and a new marriage, while Nick is heading for a reunion with her own young husband, Hughes, about to return from the war.
Soon the gilt begins to crack. Helena’s husband is not the man he seemed to be, and Hughes has returned from the war distant, his inner light curtained over. On the brink of the 1960s, back at Tiger House, Nick and Helena–with their children, Daisy and Ed–try to recapture that sense of possibility. But when Daisy and Ed discover the victim of a brutal murder, the intrusion of violence causes everything to unravel. The members of the family spin out of their prescribed orbits, secrets come to light, and nothing about their lives will ever be the same.
What did I think?:
It’s been a little while since I’ve been so excited by a book, but I have to say this book really hit all the right places. Its the first book that Richard and Judy have selected for their Summer 2013 reads, and is essentially a story of two cousins Helena and Nick (female) who after the Second World War separate to carry on with their lives and marriages. Nick is eager to see her new husband, working for the war effort and Helena is about to marry her second husband, a mysterious character called Avery. Over a couple of decades, we hear the stories of their unfolding lives from a few points of view: their own, Nick’s husband Hughes, and Helena’s intriguing and vulnerable son Ed. One main event kicks everything off – the discovery of a corpse by Ed and Nick’s daughter Daisy which leads to the unravelling of secrets and the testing of relationships.
I have to admit, when I first started this novel I expected just another post-war rambling about families and betrayal but this book is so much more than that. I loved that we saw particular events/happenings from all the characters points of views, but also as the story unfolded we saw things in a lot more depth and emotion (depending on the character). The characters themselves were incredibly vivid and fascinating and left me with more questions than answers in a lot of cases, but always kept me turning the pages, eager to discover more. What does Nick really want? Why is Helena so unhappy? and What the hell is going on with Ed?! Atmospheric, moving, gut-clenching and mind-warping, I cannot recommend this book enough, and as a debut novel from the descendant of Herman Melville (author of Moby Dick) it’s a brilliant piece of writing.
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5):