The setting is Ridinghouse Bay in northern England. We have multiple story lines overlapping which eventually merge. One story is about Alice Lake, single mother of three.
By her own admittance she isn’t a good mother. She sees a man sitting in the rain staring out to sea near her home and eventually walks up to him, gives him an old coat, a cup of hot tea and checks on him. The man is in a fugue state and can’t remember anything about his life, not his name or where he’s from. From other reviews I see some people didn’t like Alice and I can see some of their point of view. She’s a kind person and a loving person but she’s a bit too bohemian for motherhood. Giving this stranger a place to sleep in her guest “shed” is kindly yet you wonder is she putting her children at risk? Who is this guy? The loving exchanges with her children, feeding a troupe of her teenage son’s friends and taking in stray dogs….and people…..she is basically a very good person.
The second story line is set in 1993, over twenty years prior to the Alice Lake and the memory-lapse-guy story. The Ross family stays at Rabbit Cottage every year, located on Ridinghouse Bay. The two teenagers, Gray and Kristy, aren’t as enthused about going now that they are older. Typical teens, right? Enter a mysterious handsome 19 year-old who takes a rather creepy interest in 15 year-old Kristy. The parents don’t notice it but older brother Gray certainly does and feels very protective. This story ramps up quickly.
Last but not least we have a Ukraine bride named Lily, living in London with her English husband Carl Montose. They’ve only been married a few weeks and suddenly he is missing. He flat out disappears and Lily discovers she knew nothing about his life. The police get involved as it’s a missing persons case and some startling facts are revealed about Carl Montose. Could he be the memory impaired fellow staying in Alice’s shed? For what it’s worth, I did not care for Lily. Too brusque.
What I especially liked were the mini cliffhangers. The end of the chapters had you wanting more but as you turn the page, you move on to one of the other stories. This is the third book I have read by Lisa Jewell and have become a fan. Of the three novels this was my least favorite but I did like it. On hold at the library is Jewell’s book The House We Grew Up In and I am looking forward to that one.
There is a bit of food mentioned yet it’s not a foodie book by any means. Cream teas, cucumber sandwiches, beet and horseradish tea sandwiches, roasted beef with root vegetables, sausages and mash, pizza, steak, bagels and peanut butter and cake.
Alice fed the throng of teen boys sausages and mash. While that was tempting I went with a roasted chicken meal. Alice roasted beef and root vegetables and I opted for poultry. Lovely meal to share over a glass of wine and lots of chatter.
Original recipe post may be found HERE at Squirrel Head Manor.
Sharing with Joy for her British Isles Friday event.