A successful garden designer, deprived of the idealized father her globe-trotting mother had presented to her, searches for his true-life replacement.
When the mother who’s raising you alone while moving from India to England to Italy is crazy, there aren’t many constants in your life. But one thing Theodora Cairns has been able to depend on is the painting of her father, Col. John Vincent Cairns, with which she always traveled, until the day her mother packed her off from Rome to an English boarding school. Twenty years later, Theo suddenly discovers incontrovertible evidence that the man in the picture is actually Capt. Thomas Bellamy, baronet, painted by the celebrated artist Vernon Barnes. Who was Theo’s real father, and why did dancer/choreographer Lucia Cairns go to such lengths to keep his identity from her daughter? It doesn’t help that Lucia’s still available for conversation, since she steadfastly refuses to name Theo’s father. And Theo’s sudden romance with author Fergus Costello, who has father issues of his own, seems to offer more distraction than support. Only a trip to her mother’s old confessor, now an abbot in far-off Vermont, offers any hint of illumination, and Theo pays for her new suspicions with an unpleasant sense that she may have asked one question too many.
Not much new or surprising here, although Moody, continuing her trajectory from mysteries to crossover fiction (Losing Nicola, 2011, etc.), provides an absorbing portrait of a woman struggling to find a new foundation for the identity she only thought she had.