One house, two stories, over a hundred years apart. Julie Meyerson weaves the two tales together, overlapping and intermingling until one isn’t sure where one ends and the other begins.
Mary Coles is living underwater. At least that’s how it feels to her. We know something terrible happened in the past, something to do with her children who are no longer present in her life. She and her husband move into a cottage in a small town outside of London where they plan to fix up the place, restore the garden, and start their lives over.
Eliza is still just a girl at 13, yet as the oldest of her family she is often called upon to care for her younger siblings. When a storm blows through and knocks down a giant elm everyone is surprised to find a young man trapped beneath it’s spreading limbs. When he regains consciousness, James insinuates himself into the family, even though Eliza doesn’t like him. But he works hard to bring her around and soon he is having a sexual relatioship with the new teenager. But a string of horrific events leaves Eliza and her family destroyed.
The house is the same. The tragedies are different but equal in each woman’s life. But when Mary begins to notice strange things: childrens’ voices, slamming doors, and a stranger with red hair in the lane, we begin to wonder if the house is haunted by the disasters of the past, or is the grief she carries catching up with her?
I really liked the way Myerson told these two tales. The past is told in third person past tense and the present is told in first person present tense. It didn’t jar, in fact it was the perfect vehicle for distinguishing the two parts without the use of chapter headings.
Heartbreaking, violent, and terrifying, Myerson created a thrilling tale, beautifully written. The way she unveiled the stories little by little had me clinging to her words and turning the pages.