Jonathan and Theo have each other. Older brother and younger sister. They look out for each other, they need to. Their father has gone and their mother seems to live in another world, an alcoholic one. There is little interest in these two children. However, when circumstances mean their mother is taken, in steps their grandmother.
With this brings some sort of stability,money and power which their grandmother Eve Anthony has, as her business acumen, power and status is renowned all around the world. They are both in awe of Eve, but is it that which ultimately destroys the family unit.
As Jonathan who narrates this book, discovers about his family nothing is ever as it seems. Having grown up with a very distant mother he starts to notice a similar trait in his sister, Theo. She seems to be functioning in a very different world , she sees ghosts of the past where they live, strangers seem to become real figures across the road and when Theo moves away from her home, it all slowly starts to unravel for her and she starts to question much. Jonathan just wants to be a success and leave behind the uncertainty that Theo brings into to his life.
Jonathan has trouble forming relationships with women once he becomes an adult. Perhaps the overtly strong female influence growing up has affected him, the author is perhaps suggesting. He remembers the feeling of not being able to love the one he wanted when young and all his relationships require no emotional attachment just a physical one. As he juggles this as the years pass, he begins to tolerate Theo less and slowly their relationship changes into something different. His relationship with his mother is polite but nothing more but he continues to value his grandmother, Eve and all that she stands for, despite the secrets that she has kept.
This is a beautifully written novel, and from the moment you start, the pages turn with ease as you discover how the story evolves, how Jonathan and Theo change and develop as everything changes around them and the truth of the past is slowly unfolded.
This is a debut novel, but the words, phrases and plot sound like it comes from the pen of an established author. The use of a male narrator by a female author could have gone wrong – but I think McCarthy captures the voice perfectly and the use of this to describe the female characters gave a different angle. I did not like the three main female characters at all, there was something about their flaws that did not appeal but in equal measure they fascinated me in the extreme which is why I enjoyed reading this book so much.
A book that you cannot pigeonhole in one particular genre; is this a romance; a mystery; a story of family and relationships or is it a combination of all and therefore does not fit in anywhere. Which for me is what makes this book so appealing. I look forward to see how Morgan McCarthy follows this up with her second novel.
I listened to this author speak back on November at the Portsmouth BookFest where she featured with three other Headline authors.