Arriving on the windswept Ile de Re off the coast of France, Tabby Dewhurst is heartbroken and penniless, unable even to afford a room for the night. Then she overhears a villager repeating aloud the access code to her front door and, hardly believing her own actions, Tabby waits for the villager to leave and lets herself into the house . . .
And so she enters the strange, hidden world of Emmie, whose sudden offer of friendship is at odds with her obsession with her own privacy. Soon Tabby begins to form suspicions about Emmie, suspicions that will lead her back to England – and to a scandal with shattering consequences.
I haven’t read a book by Louise Candlish in quite a long time. I have quite a few of her books waiting on my Kindle and bookshelves – there’s no good reason why they’ve stayed unread for such a long time, just the usual so many books, not enough time. I can’t believe it’s six years since I read Since I Don’t Have You, with its beautiful Santorini setting and engrossing story line, or three years since Other People’s Secrets with its edge of darkness, secrets and revelations.
I was delighted to pick up one of her books again, as I’ve always enjoyed her writing. From the point that Tabby and Emmie get together in Ile de Re off the French coast – a vividly drawn setting – cleaning houses for the rich holidaymakers with no questions asked about either of their backgrounds, the book has you in its grip. Neither of the lead characters is particularly likeable, but that really doesn’t matter at all. Tabby really is a “user”, with very dubious morals as she entertains her lover in the houses she cleans. Emmie has a big secret, and her sad story is revealed through her own account of what has happened in her past life, interspersed with the narrative.
The big twist in the story, when it came, took me totally by surprise –it was brilliantly handled and really turned what was already an enjoyable read into an even better one. I loved it, and need to wipe the dust off the other books by Louise Candlish that I have waiting – her writing is excellent and her storylines really different and original.
Louise Candlish studied English at University College London and worked as an editor and copywriter before writing fiction. She is the author of nine novels, including the bestsellers ‘Since I Don’t Have You’, ‘The Second Husband’, ‘Before We Say Goodbye’ and ‘The Day You Saved My Life’, which are all published in the UK by Sphere. Though her stories are about families with complicated lives and emotional dilemmas, Louise tries to live her own life without drama, in South London, with her husband and daughter. Read Louise’s blog at www.louisecandlish.co.uk.
Published 1st August 2013 by Sphere, available for Kindle and in paperback.