2nd April 2020 Quercus
Roaming through Oxford’s secret passages and hidden graveyards, Magpie Lane explores the true meaning of family – and what it is to be denied one.
When the eight year old daughter of an Oxford College Master vanishes in the middle of the night, police turn to the Scottish nanny, Dee, for answers.
As Dee looks back over her time in the Master’s Lodging – an eerie and ancient house – a picture of a high achieving but dysfunctional family emerges: Nick, the fiercely intelligent and powerful father; his beautiful Danish wife Mariah, pregnant with their child; and the lost little girl, Felicity, almost mute, seeing ghosts, grieving her dead mother.
But is Dee telling the whole story? Is her growing friendship with the eccentric house historian, Linklater, any cause for concern? And most of all, why was Felicity silent?
From the outset this book was a gripping read, told entirely from the perspective of Dee as she sits, being interviewed by the police about the disappearance of eight year old Felicity. Not under arrest but clearly the nanny falls under the shadow of suspicion. As she faces question after question she reflects on her time with Law family and in this way the story is told. The context of Oxford University provides an interesting backdrop to the story as the university campus serves as it’s own micro universe.
Told in the first person we hear Dee’s story, although this is contrasted with police evidence conflicting with some of her accounts, leaving the reader unsure how reliable a narrator she actually is, compared with how much of the police questioning is fabricated and who else may be lying. A compelling read with some rather unpleasant central characters who unravel spectacularly as the story progresses.
I liked Dee and she seemed committed to Felicity, the damaged, missing girl, but Dee has some secrets of her own which serve to cast doubt over her character. An addictive read that I struggled to put down and a book I enjoyed immensely. It kept me guessing throughout and concluded with a satisfying, albeit thought provoking ending. Short chapters added to the readability and some spooky undercurrents provided depth and intrigue. A great read, an ideal distraction from the global problems and the long days socially isolating, published earlier this week and definitely recommended by me.
About the Author
Lucy Atkins is an award – winning author, feature journalist and Sunday Times book critic. She has written for newspapers including The Guardian, The Times, The Sunday Times and The Telegraph as well as many UK magazines. She lives in Oxford.
This is a Social Media Blast to celebrate the launch of this book. Thank you to Ella Patel at Quercus for inviting me to be involved and providing me with a finished copy of the book. Do check out what others are saying about the book, details of who else is involved below.