Author: Harriet Evans
Published by: Grand Central Publishing on May 10, 2022
Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery/Thriller
Source: HBG Canada
Book Rating: 7.5/10
Catherine, a successful barrister, vanishes from a train station on the eve of her anniversary. Is it because she saw a figure – someone she believed long dead? Or was it a shadow cast by her troubled, fractured mind?
The answer lies buried in the past. It lies in the events of the hot, seismic summer of 1989, at Vanes – a mysterious West Country manor house – where a young girl, Jane Lestrange, arrives to stay with the gilded, grand Hunter family, and where a devastating tragedy will unfold. Over the summer, as an ancient family ritual looms closer, Janey falls for each member of the family in turn. She and Kitty, the eldest daughter of the house, will forge a bond that decades later, is still shaping the present . . .
Complex, mysterious, and dark!
The Beloved Girls transports you to England between 1959 and 2018 and immerses you into the ongoing, entangled, multi-generational relationships between the entitled, dysfunctional Hunter family and the sweet, reliable Lestrange family, complete with all the powerful emotions, unnerving traditions, long-buried secrets, abusive behaviours, and unimaginable tragedy that has tied them together for almost sixty years.
The prose is eloquent and expressive. The characters are damaged, eccentric, and conflicted with the setting, Vanes Manor, being a character itself with its history, rituals, abundance of bees, and multitude of secrets. And the plot told in a back-and-forth style is an unsettling tale about life, loss, family, friendship, identity, betrayal, social division, ambition, exploitation, manipulation, and heartbreak.
Overall, The Beloved Girls is a menacing, sinuous, somewhat disturbing tale that is beautifully written and incredibly atmospheric but a little too long and perplexing to really keep me engaged and invested from start to finish and thus will unfortunately not, as I highly expected, be taking the spot of one of my favourite reads of all time, to which Evans definitely has one or two.
This novel is available now.
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Thank you to HBG Canada & Grand Central Publishing for gifting me a copy in exchange for an honest review.