An artist and her high-flying businessman husband move into an old house that contains the remnants of a child's belongings. As soon as they move in, the husband has to go away on a trip so an old university friend comes to stay. But all is not well.
The story opens with a brief transcript from an interview with the husband, who comments on the behaviour of his wife. The transcripts are interspersed with the first person point of view from the painter wife, with many (often mundane) retellings of her life at university, her past boyfriend, current husband and his family as well as her fraught attempts to paint. There is an exhibition looming and she becomes totally absorbed in her dark work, which becomes darker to the detriment of her health and everything else.
Given that the house has historical memories and past, possibly disturbing, secrets, the first two thirds of the story show very little spookiness. There is a slow build up instead, telling how the the toxic friendship the two women have impacts the protagonist's life. At around two thirds of the way into the story our heroine has sunk to rock bottom.
By the end of the book the minutiae of the relationship between the two women becomes clear, as does the book title. It all makes sense in a why-didn't-I-see-it kind of way, but I did not and I'm glad for that. An oppressive read about guilt, shame and mental illness.
Published by HQ on 5 August 2021.
Advanced review copy supplied by the publisher.
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