A satisfying multigenerational novel tying long-ago friends, family and secret lovers to the present.
Willett constructs a tangled web of past loves, lies and infidelities and then slowly straightens the threads, revealing how past events impact family members three generations later. The truth of what happened decades ago on the bank of the Tamar in Cargreen, England, begs to be released when Jess Penhaligon, just out of university, travels to London to receive an art award. Kate Porteous, the widow of the artist for whom the award is named, offers Jess a place to stay. When Jess mentions her grandparents, Kate realizes she knew them and introduces Jess to others who knew them as well, and a family truth slowly comes to light—with all its potential to bring happiness to some, sadness and regret to others, and even death. Readers may think they have things figured out, and just when it seems the story should have ended a chapter ago, Willett adds a twist. The story plods a bit, slowed by the many side stories—albeit interesting—of other characters. The prologue is front-loaded with names. Supporting the character overload with a family tree…or three...would have been appreciated.
New Willett readers may find it taxing to keep the names and relationships clear, but her loyal readers will fare better, recognizing many in the cast of characters, and everything falls into place as the story progresses.