What a story! It’s mostly told from Marianne’s point of view but you have a fascinating, and horrifying, backdrop from the “evil” Helen Greenlaw.
The book starts in 2018 with our introduction to Marianne and her husband Sam. They are in their late 40’s and have been quite successful in their careers and finances. Marianne didn’t always have a charmed life, coming from the poor town of Nusstead, living hand to mouth. Marianne’s mother still lives in Nusstead and is declining rapidly. She makes the trip from London to see her Mum and daughter Honor as often as she can. Devoted husband Sam has a surprise in store for his wife, but unbeknownst to him it won’t be a welcome one. This is where you get the backstory and the secrets.
We flash to 1988 when Marianne was young teen and meets Jesse Brame at school. Without getting into to much detail lets just say they were young, in love and poor as dirt. The mental asylum Nazareth closed and put most of the village out of work, including Marianne’s mum, Jesse’s father and brother. Government official Helen Greenlaw was the one responsible for the closure and the hatred of this rich unsympathetic women was legend in Nusstead.
Marianne is intelligent, Jesse is devoted (more so than Marianne), and between them they devise a plan they think is foolproof. Unfortunately it will change and ruin the lives of four people. Then it gets worse....if you can imagine.
Before we write Helen Greenlaw off as a cold government official who never knew strife, we get a picture of her life back in 1958 when a young lady had zero rights. Her story and that of the East Anglia Lunatic Asylum will run your blood cold. Toss these main characters together in an unimaginable scenario and you have a disastrous event they must keep secret forever.
It’s Marianne who worries her present and past life will intersect and cause all the carefully guarded secrets from her youth to explode, shattering her world. Helen Greenlaw also had a lot to lose but no one ever knew her backstory. I do believe Marianne would have been sympathetic to Helen’s plight.
The ending chapters give up quite a bit of information and all the pieces fit together nicely. It’s not necessarily a happy ending for all parties but it’s conclusive. I’m going to write more on Goodreads where I can hide the spoilers.
I saw the phrase “going round the bend” referred to as going crazy, or how the drive ways/entrances curve to mental asylums. Apparently it was to screen the potential inmates from view and keep them from seeing the hospital straight on. I didn’t know that but have certainly used the phrase over the years.
Not a foodie book but I did note the meals and drinks as I read. Dressed crab, beetroot and feta salad, large glasses of Cabernet Sauvignon, seared salmon and zucchini, grilled streak, avocado smash on sourdough bread, fish pie, a casserole with chicken and olives, gin and tonics with Bombay Sapphire.
Much thanks to Netgalley for the complimentary copy of this book. I read this and immediately planned to get more work by Erin Kelly. In my opinion this book would be great for a book club discussion. This book was published April 23, 2019 – go get a copy!