Vintage Books May 2018
When Harriet Westaway receives an unexpected letter telling her she’s inherited a substantial bequest from her Cornish grandmother, it seems like the answer to her prayers.
There’s just one problem – Hal’s real grandparents died more than twenty years ago.
Hal desperately needs the cash and makes a choice that will change her life for ever. She knows that her skills as a seaside fortune teller could help her con her way to getting the money.
But once Hal embarks on her deception, there is no going back. She must keep going or risk losing everything, even her life…
I’d seen this popular book on Instagram and I must say the title appealed to me, so I actually picked it up without knowing too much about it. This was a strong read and the author created a tense setting at Trepassen House, where much of the story is set, with it’s formidable housekeeper, Mrs Warren. Hal heads there intent to defraud, young and somewhat lost since her mother’s death she has landed in a financial mess and this could be the perfect solution. Unsurprisingly things aren’t as expected and she finds herself lengthening her stay along with her new found family, The Westaways.
This was fun and creepy fiction, Hal is in a tenuous situation, the house is remote, the housekeeper hostile and the Westaway clan are not to be trusted. I sympathised with Hal’s situation, increasingly so as the story progressed, although I must say there were a few occasions where I found some of her decisions questionable. She was a curious mix of timid and brave, but then aren’t we all? But what came across strongly was how young she was when her mother died abruptly, leaving Hal at just 18 to fend for herself, becoming increasingly isolated as her friends moved on and away in education and life.
The story was written in the present time in the third person narrative, but interspersed throughout the book were diary entries written around the time of Hal’s conception and birth and these offered insight into the Westaways and what had gone before. For Hal this becomes a journey of discovery as she finds herself mysteriously embroiled in this family. The plot was clever, fuelled by a cast of shady characters and I admit I was slow to work things out. The climatic end, occurring in a desolate snow storm was entertaining and served to wrap up the story effectively, leaving no loose ends, which I always appreciate in this type of fiction. My favourite work by this author so far, so a must for fans, although I realise I am rather late to this party… have you read this one, what did you think?
Noteworthy was Hal’s job as a Tarot Reader, I found this aspect particularly interesting as the ‘cards’ linked with the direction of the story. I was curious as to how much research the author had done, because the detail here was impressive, in terms of Hal’s interpretation of the cards and I wondered if there may be a personal interest there, does anyone know?
About the Author
Ruth Ware is an international number one bestselling author. Her psychological thrillers In a Dark, Dark Wood, The Woman in Cabin 10, The Lying Game and The Death of Mrs Westaway have appeared on bestseller lists around the world, including the Sunday Times and New York Times, and she is published in more than 40 languages. Ruth lives near Brighton with her family.