A clever, multi-stranded time-slipping generational novel centred around Kittiwake; a crumbling Cornish mansion. The story begins with a 50th birthday celebration in honour of its present-day owner, Lance. His mother, Natasha, flies in from France – free several years now from the cruel clutches of her husband, Hugo. Lances’ adoptive sister, Bel, who lives in much less grand circumstances, is also a guest. She’s nervous of the occasion, fearful of where it all began. But how will it end? And then we’re taken back seventy years to when American heiress Peggy Carmichael first set eyes on the mansion and sets about making it a home. But the death of a child means Peggy flees back to America and Kittiwake lies empty again, housing only wild parties in the sixties hosted by Peggy’s son, Benedict and his sister, Natasha.
A chance meeting at a party with runaway Serena is another beginning of sorts, and we’re taken along another journey, one of hope, ambition, and a naive young woman’s search for love. But Hugo is ever watchful and manipulative, and the consequences of greed, power, and control are just around the corner.
I thought this was an outstanding novel about the ripple effect of consequences. Despite the number of central characters and time slips, never once did I loose my way. It’s certainly more serious than Eclair’s other books, it’s also insightful, poignant, heart-rending and above all, completely compelling.