by Amy Silver
Published by Random House U.K. / Cornerstone
Thanks to NetGalley for the preview
5 / 5
There is nothing about this book that I did not love.
Well, that's not entirely true. A couple of the characters do things that I don't like all that much, but I understand why they act as they do. Yes, I wish they didn't, although the "why" behind their actions makes sense.
I loved this book. Loved, loved, loved.
The premise is not unfamiliar: one character gathers a group of friends to say farewell. In this case, the gatherer is Jen, who is selling what she and her friends call the French house. It was the scene of some of their happier moments together, yet returning there is bittersweet. Jen's boyfriend and fellow member of the tribe of friends, Conor, is dead, and we quickly discover that the events surrounding his death remain somewhat mysterious. All of the friends were there when it happened, and one of them is directly responsible.
Returning to the French house are Lilah, the broken member of the group who also brings her boyfriend Zac; Andrew and Natalie, a couple whose marriage appears to be splintering, and Dan, Conor's best friend. As the story unfolds, we learn that there are different connecting relationships between these people; some are still in love with others, while some no longer love others. We see the events through each of their perspectives, as each reveals not only how they feel about the others but also their roles in Conor's death. At various times, we may favor one character over another, our sympathies sliding from one to the next. That we never fully side with one is a sign of how well this book is written.
The mystery surrounding Conor's death is answered in its own time, much like Jen and her friends' grief must unfold and heal in its. Each must come to terms with Conor's death and how it has affected their lives. In some cases, those effects may not even be realized until the French house weaves its magic. These are flawed people, and those flaws are what make us care about them. When Jen spots blood on the stone steps before her friends arrive, it is symbolic of what will happen between them all while they are there, both in terms of pain and kinship.
This book will cast a spell on you, and you will not be able to put it down. It is absolutely lovely.