Paperback: 506 pages
Publisher: Headline 2021
Source: My own bookshelves
First Sentence: I was twelve when I first went to Vanes.
Setting: 'Vanes' a house in the English countryside.
Review Quote: 'Spellbinding' ― Independent
My Opinion: A mysterious and atmospheric family drama, revolving around a house 'Vanes' and its history, in particularly the summer of 1989. Bees have been kept in the neglected chapel on the estate for many years and that long hot summer they were restless. For me this was a large contributor to the menacing aspect of the story.
None of the main protagonists seem happy with their lives and the women all suffer from domination by the men around them. They are part of a family with secrets and strange centuries old traditions, into which Janey and Kitty become deeply involved. 'The Beloved Girls' have the main role in this secret ritual called 'The Collecting.'
I recommend this one as a novel to read at your leisure, not to be rushed as you will miss so much.
Précis Courtesy of Amazon:
A successful London barrister, Catherine Christophe, goes missing the day before her wedding anniversary. The clue to her disappearance, it seems, lies buried thirty years in the past.
Somerset, 1989. Janey Lestrange arrives to stay for the summer at the grand old house of the Hunter family. But something is wrong behind the beautiful façades of Vanes. Janey's childhood friend, Kitty Hunter, her brother and their eccentric parents - once so welcoming - do not seem to want her there.
It is only as the night of an ancient and mysterious family ritual looms closer that Janey comes to realise they need her . . .
Decades later, the tragic events of that unforgettable summer still cast the darkest shadow. Can the truth about what happened that night ever be brought into the light?
Autobiography in the author's own words from her Goodreads Profile
I was born in London and grew up there. I was very bookish, and had a huge imagination which used to cause me to get rather anxious at times. Now I know it's a good thing for a writer to have. I loved musicals, and playing imaginative games, and my Barbie perfume making kit. Most of all I loved reading. I read everything, but I also read lots of things over and over, which I think is so important.
At university I read Classical Studies, which is a great way of finding out that the world doesn't change much and people make the same mistakes but it's interesting to look at why. I was at Bristol, and i loved the city, making new friends, being a new person.
After university I came back to London and got a job in publishing. I loved working in publishing so much, and really felt for the first time in my life that when I spoke people understood what I was saying. Book people are good people. I became an editor after a few years, working with many bestselling novelists, and in 2009 I left to write full time.
I've written 13 novels and several short stories and one Quick Read, which is an excellent way of getting people into reading more. I've acquired a partner and two children along the way.
In 2019 we moved to Bath, out of London, and I am very happy there. We live opposite a hedgerow, and I can be boring about gardening, and there's room for my collection of jumpsuits and all our books. We have lots of books. Apart from anything else they keep the house warm. xxx
If you are interested in learning more about Harriet, do read Meet Harriet on her website.
Photographs, Trailer and Biographical Information courtesy of the following sites: