Quentin and Lottie Bredin, like many modern couples, can’t afford to divorce. Having lost their jobs in the recession, they can’t afford to go on living in London; instead, they must downsize and move their three children to a house in a remote part of Devon. Arrogant and adulterous, Quentin can’t understand why Lottie is so angry; devastated and humiliated, Lottie feels herself to have been intolerably wounded.
Mud, mice, and quarrels are one thing – but why is their rent so low? What is the mystery surrounding their unappealing new home? The beauty of the landscape is ravishing, yet it conceals a dark side involving poverty, revenge, abuse and violence which will rise up to threaten them.
Sally Verity, happily married but unhappily childless knows a different side to country life, as both a Health Visitor and a sheep farmer’s wife; and when Lottie’s innocent teenage son Xan gets a zero-hours contract at a local pie factory, he sees yet another. At the end of their year, the lives of all will be changed for ever.
A suspenseful black comedy, this is a rich, compassionate and enthralling novel in its depiction of the English countryside and the potentially lethal interplay between money and marriage.
Although it stands alone, it continues Amanda Craig’s sequence of novels featuring inter-connected characters which illuminate aspects of contemporary life. It is the work of a writer at the height of her powers.
HERE ARE MY THOUGHTS AND REVIEW
Quentin and Lottie Bredin are a very modern couple, although they don’t really live as man and wife they had always loved the London life, their jobs and keeping the family together but when they both loose their jobs it leaves them with little choice as to what to do. The option they take is to rent out their house in London and move to Devon and a really cheap farmhouse that they can afford to rent themselves. Ding ding ding goes the warning bells as to why the property is at a give away price to rent, but all the Bredins see is a place that allows them to keep their heads above water financially.
The story does start with a bit of a slow burn that builds up sneakily on you so you don’t want to put it down. It is never racy more on the side of intriguing as it follows the family over a year where at the end they have all changed so much that there would be no back tracking.
Everyone knows everyone and of course everyone knows why the farmhouse is so cheap. Terrible things have happened here including a murder that is still unsolved. The acceptance of each of the family members of moving from London and their life style there and moving on to a new life in the countryside happens at different times. It is more of an internal battle of this is how it has got to be then a wanting to change.
There are quite a few personal story lines which are all interwoven one way or another. It isn’t only the Bredins lives that are changed with their arrival into the community.
I wish to thank Netgalley and the publisher Little Brown Book for an ARC of this book which I have chosen to review
HERE IS A LITTLE ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Amanda Craig (born 1959) is a British novelist. Craig studied at Bedales School and Cambridge and works as a journalist. She is married with two children and lives in London.
Craig has so far published a cycle of six novels which deal with contemporary British society, often in a concise acerbic satirical manner. Her approach to writing fiction has been compared to that of Anthony Trollope and Charles Dickens. Her novel A Vicious Circle was originally contracted to be published by Hamish Hamilton, but was cancelled when its proof copy received a libel threat from David Sexton, a literary critic and former boyfriend of Craig’s at Cambridge, fifteen years previously. The novel was promptly bought by Fourth Estate and published three months later. Although each novel can be read separately, they are linked to each other by common characters and themes, thus constituting a novel sequence. Usually, Craig takes a minor character and makes him or her the protagonist of her next work.
Craig is particularly interested in children’s fiction, and was one of the first critics to praise JK Rowling and Philip Pullman in The New Statesman. She is currently the children’s critic for The Times.