by Helen Kitson.
Gabrielle is twenty-years on from her best-selling novel, and the fame and riches it brought her. Now, she is a single (no children), socially isolated housekeeper for the local vicar, still haunted by the death of her best friend Madeleine, who drowned at the age of 22. Then Simon inveigles his way into her life and changes everything.
Intertwined with Gabrielle’s modern-day life, is the story of her childhood friendship with Madeleine. This leads – inexorably – to Madeleine’s death, revealing bit-by-bit why Gabrielle has become so fragile.
When we think of “vulnerable adults” we tend to think of the visibly, physically and mentally, disabled, but vulnerability comes in so many forms – including the need to be loved, which is itself inextricably linked with the (quintessentially middle-England) reluctance to offend. The ease with which we allow our behaviour to be modified by the expectations of others is revealed here in all its discomfort.
This is a tale of love, loss, secrets, and betrayal. Kitson writes all with subtlety and compassion, fleshing out her characters with authenticity. I’m still getting goosebumps when I think about it.
Note: I worked on this title as typesetter, and received a free copy as a result. There was no expectation on behalf of the publisher for me to read it, let alone review it, and I have done both by choice, and with pleasure.