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.


Something To Live For

Andrew is living the perfect lie: he’s married to Diane and they have two children and a large family home. The innocence of this lie snowballs rapidly after a successful interview with the local council for a job in Death Administration. Bereaved at a young age, Andrew has had more than his fair share of loss. But in truth, family life on any level doesn’t exist for Andrew – he’s something of a nerdy loner, preferring his own company to socialising, and he’d much prefer to forget about his past. His job for the council is both fascinating and sad, and arranging funerals for those who’ve died alone touches a nerve in Andrew and he becomes steadily more concerned about his own fate. When Peggy joins the office her forthright personality draws out something of the man Andrew used to be, and a friendship blossoms. But a team-building exercise based on Come Dine With Me, is poised to blow everything apart and Andrew’s entire life looks set to be exposed – the rundown flat he shares with his model railway, the difficult relationship with his sister and her husband… and what happened to the real Diane.

Dark humour with a strong and original message about family ties. I found this read a slow burn to start but my enjoyment rapidly increased as the novel developed, and I loved the final third. Although there are dark themes – death, loneliness, depression, funerals – the satirical humour bubbles beneath the surface and the narrative remains witty and engaging. The secondary characters are relatable, colourful and interesting, and these subplots compliment the main story and add complex layers. There are numerous sad circumstances throughout, but it is also about the potential of love, truth, and hope, and the light these powers can bring to the darkest of places.