In her debut novel, Sorell explores the complex fallout of a troubled mother-daughter relationship.
Elsie has long struggled with her emotionally distant mother, Rachel, a secretive and vain woman who often seemed to see her own daughter as competition. But when Rachel dies and Elsie begins sifting through the apartment she left behind, the 39-year-old is confronted by how much she didn’t know about her mother. From their early days in South Africa to Rachel’s relationship with a New Age cult in Paris, Elsie works to put together the pieces and gain a sense of who her mother was even as she continues to deal with the fallout her mother’s lack of care took on her. Sorell slowly reveals the extent to which the independent-minded Elsie has been shaped by her mother, complicating the book’s initial straightforward narrative. Although the pacing accelerates rapidly near the end and the book’s mystery struggles to deliver a rewarding payoff, most of the novel is a fascinating look at a unique and fractured parent-child relationship.
An engaging and tense (though uneven) exploration of the scars our childhoods can leave behind.