Do you know, I’m sure I have a copy of Mrs Sinclair’s Suitcase somewhere – but I’ll tangle with the depths of my bookshelves later. I was only searching because I’ve just finished reading A Life Between Us by Louise Walters – it’s released in paperback by Matador on Tuesday 28th March – and I just can’t wait to tell you about it, as I add its author to my list of “favourites”.
Now, you could just preorder A Life Between Us on Amazon or through the Troubador website, but if you buy through Louise’s own website – and the offer closes TOMORROW (27th March), so move quickly! – you’ll pay just £5.99 (RRP £8.99) with free P&P, and your copy will be signed and dedicated (if it’s something you’d like) and sent with a co-ordinating bookmark featuring the beautiful cover art.
Let me tell you more about this wonderful read…
Tina Thornton’s twin sister Meg died in a childhood accident, but for almost forty years Tina has secretly blamed herself for her sister’s death. During a visit to her aging Uncle Edward and his sister Lucia, who both harbour dark secrets of their own, Tina makes a discovery that forces her to finally question her memories of the day her sister died. Who, if anyone, did kill Meg? As Tina finds the courage to face the past, she unravels the tangled family mysteries of her estranged parents, her beautiful French Aunt Simone, the fading, compassionate Uncle Edward, and above all, the cold, bitter Aunt Lucia, whose spectral presence casts a long shadow over them all.
A Life Between Us is a beautifully evocative story of a family torn apart at the seams, which will appeal to readers who enjoy family sagas and modern-day mysteries.
In an interview at the back of my copy, the author tells how this story started life as “a thriller-ish” story, complete with twists and imaginary friends, but slowly became something rather different – “no big twists… more emphasis on the secrets and misunderstandings that all families seem to harbour”.
The first thing I really loved about this story was the way it was constructed. Do you know, by the end I’d actually almost forgotten about the prologue, and read it once more – and it’s just perfect. The main book starts with Tina as an adult, visiting her sister’s grave, severely troubled by the events of the past, her husband struggling to cope – and a lovely touch of the supernatural, or perhaps the outward sign of a troubled mind. The book’s timeline dips and swerves with consummate ease. We experience Tina’s own childhood, and learn more through the lovely letters she writes to her cousin Elizabeth – and we go further back, to the childhood and young adulthood of her Aunt Lucia. The flow of the story is sheer perfection – comfortable to read, the past illuminating the present, the present uncovering the long-hidden secrets of the past.
The two female characters at the centre of the story are superbly drawn. Lucia can be a total monster, bitter and cruel, but the reader (at least partly) understands the reasons why – I’m not sure why I remained sympathetic to her, at least in part, but in many ways she’s a victim too. And then there’s Tina – an endearing child, bubbling with enthusiasm for life within the pages of her books, but now hurt and damaged in so many ways, incomplete without her sister, struggling to move on with her life. The supporting characters are excellent too: I still have a bit of a question mark against Edward, but I really liked Tina’s friend Kath, Tina’s husband Keaton, and “half-French” Tante Simone. And as for Meg…
This is an immensely accomplished piece of story telling – a wonderful multi-layered story about families and their secrets, the way things can get hidden and twisted and used to cause real damage, the capacity of individuals for cruelty, the actions people are capable of in the name of love and truth. But it’s also a real page turner as the various truths – or people’s versions of them – slowly come to the surface. I absolutely loved it.
My thanks to author Louise Walters for my advance reading proof copy.
About the author
Louise Walters is the author of Mrs Sinclair’s Suitcase, published by Hodder in 2014. Her second novel, A Life Between Us, will be published with Matador on 28th March. Louise lives in Northamptonshire with her husband and five children. Find out more about Louise and her writing through her excellent website: you can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.