I enjoyed this novel told through multiple narrators, with its Gothic elements and an engaging backstory that slowly reveals itself as the novel progresses.
Laura Holt fled England, her privileged life and her titled parents as soon as she could, eventually settling half a world away in California. But tragedy and financial woes force her to return with her ten-year-old daughter, Ruby, to live with her mother in the family’s rural, lakeside manor.
Laura and her mother, Virginia, have always had a chilly relationship, and the passing of Laura’s beloved father has only deepened the rift between the two women. But Laura’s daughter Ruby is charmed by her glamorous grandmother, and Laura frets her mother may not be a positive influence on her impressionable daughter.
Although Laura never felt secure in her mother’s love, she had unreserved admiration and affection for her childhood nanny. Nanny Hannah’s sudden departure from the family when Laura was only seven left young Laura deeply scarred and even more convinced that she was unloved by her mother.
Meanwhile, a police investigation into a skull found in the lake unfolds and heightens tension between the town and its most prominent family, inadvertently drawing young Ruby into the long-simmering class resentment.
Against this backdrop, Nanny Hannah resurfaces in town. Laura is ecstatic, eager to draw her old nanny back into the family fold in order to care for her own daughter, while simultaneously counterbalancing Virginia’s influence over her granddaughter.
This multi-narrator tale with Gothic elements unwinds slowly as we reflect on the nature of memory, while revealing multiple layers and nuances to one family’s troubled history.
But all is not as it appears to be, and actions that took place in the past are seen through the very different perspectives of Virginia, Hannah and Laura.
Are Laura’s childhood memories as straight-forward as she’s believed all these years? Is she right to want the same sense of comfort, love and belonging she obtained from her nanny for her own daughter?
This novel is a slow burn, but I greatly enjoyed the story unfolding slowly between present and past, and through the eyes of three different narrators. All three characters were well developed. The sense of place was another strength of the novel, and I enjoyed the atmospheric setting of a stately, if slightly crumbling, lakeside manor. A highly enjoyable read.