To my shame, I had never heard of Maggie O’Farrell, even though she is a prize winning Scottish author. This story of Esme and her family sat neglected in my bookcase for over a year after the book was passed on to me, unwanted by a friend.

As penance, (I was brought up as a Catholic) I am writing this review so that this very fine novel does not receive the same treatment from other potential readers.

You couldn’t call the writing over artistic or literary, but the plain prose, good characterisations and intriguing plot make for a very enjoyable read.

It’s a sad story too, in more ways than one and, unfortunately very likely to be based on historical fact.

The novel begins in ‘the present’ and then returns to India and the past childhoods of Esme and her sister Kitty. From then on the past and present interweave with the story progressing from the viewpoints of the main characters.

It’s an clever and gripping plot. Maybe I wasn’t concentrating hard enough, but I didn’t even vaguely guess what would happen at the end.

I won’t say anymore as I don’t want to give anything away and this novel will be much more enjoyable to read than to ‘read about’. But I will certainly be seeking out the other books by this author and adding them to my ‘must read’ list.

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