Another one on the special offer from Amazon, this sounded right up my street. I got it for 99p in mid-August, but apparently it is now £6.23 from Amazon.
The story spans two timelines – the late 60s and the late 90s. In the 60s, two 9 year old girls are forced into being ‘friends’, although they never really manage more than ‘playmates’.
Set in a sleepy southern-England coastal village, Eleanor’s family are slightly unusual and exotic for the 60s. Her father is a big-shot doctor, charming and loved, whilst her mather is something of a glamour-puss. The family often have parties which are the talk of the town, and they have a rather strange way of talking to each other – cutting, sarcastic and show-offy.
In the summer of 1968, during an afternoon playing with Eleanor, Alice goes missing and is never found. The story of what happened slowly unravels following an event in 1999.
This really had so much potential, and although a horrible subject-matter (the disappearance of a young child being a rather pertinent topic at the moment), the story of the emotions and actions of those left behind are generally pretty compulsive reading when handled properly.
However, that didn’t really work with this book. The part in the 60s was just too slow, I ended up feeling quite bored when reading it – although the family themselves seemed extremely interesting, the viewpoint of the story didn’t really seem to capture the characters at their most interesting.
To be honest, even though the family wre larger than life, they seemed the most believable characters, and all of the other supporting characters seemed boring and pointless (I am mainly thinking of Alices’ parents.)
For 99p, it was a good enough holiday read. At £6.23 I would have felt completely robbed!