It’s an idyllic summer’s day in 1961 and while her family picnics nearby, 16-year-old Laurel daydreams about a boy named Billy and moving to London from the sanctuary of her family tree house. But her daydreams are interrupted when she witnesses her otherwise kind and loving mother, killing a man in cold blood from her hidden perch. Fifty years later — as her mother lies dying — Laurel finally decides to confront the past and uncover the mystery of that tragic day.
The story weaves through the pre-war years in England and Australia to the blitz in London, the post-war boom and present day (set in 2010). The story is alternately told through three women’s perspectives: Laurel, her mother Dorothy and Vivien Jenkins, a woman who knew Dorothy during the war and seems inexplicably connected to that fateful day.
I often find myself reading books set in England during the Second World War. I suppose so many books are written about this era because there is such a rich landscape of literary possibilities in the interwar years there, so perhaps that’s not so unusual. It has made me a bit of a self-proclaimed expert, at least on the social dynamics of the period.
This book very cleverly wove the past and present together, touching on the shifting class barriers of the interwar years in England and the horror of the blitz, but outside of the backdrop, this story could’ve taken place in any time, which I think was done deliberately. I did find that the book occasionally lingered far too long on one thread of the story or another and at those times I really had to force myself to continue. If I’m being perfectly honest though, I would never have abandoned the book because I HAD to know the whole truth to be satisfied.
And god! Without giving anything away — I assure you — it is more than worth the few delays in the narrative to get to the big reveal!