The Wildling Sisters by Eve Chase
No one of us can bear to touch his belt, so horrifyingly intimate. But as we drag him across the lawn, it plows into the soil. He's heavier than he looks, unwieldy. Every few steps we stop and catch our breath, startling in the dawn light, daring one another to look down at the unbelievable fleshy fact of him, the childlike abandon of his outstretched arms.
Daisies are stuck to him now, their pink-white petals opening to the sun that is rising at a worrying speed behind the orchard. There's something very wrong about these daisies, stars in the dark sticky of his hair. Dot leans forward as if to pluck them out, sit down, and thread them into a chain over the hammock of her gingham skirt. If she did it wouldn't make anything stranger.
The Wildling Sisters is Eve Chase's 2nd book after Black Rabbit Hall. That one resides on my bookshelf, as yet unread by me. Story of my life - 'as yet unread by me' - ha! I'll get to it soon, hopefully. In any case, I decided to listen to this book about sisters on audio, narrated very well by Clare Corbett and Emilia Fox. Two narrators because this is a tale told in two periods of time, 50 years apart. Margot Wilde and her three sisters, Dot, Pam, and Flora, come to Applecote Manor in 1959 to spend the summer with their aunt and uncle. The sisters are 17, 16, 15, and 12 and not very happy about the arrangement. They used to love visiting Applecote, but that was when their cousin, Audrey, was there. Audrey disappeared five years ago and that mystery hangs heavily over the house and couple who live there.
In the present day, Jessie and her husband, Will, decide to purchase Applecote Manor. They are trying to simplify and slow their busy London life. They have two daughters, Bella (a teenager who is Jessie's stepdaughter and still grieving and lashing out because of the death of her mother) and Romy (a toddler). Unfortunately, Will very quickly has to return to London and spend more and more time there because of business problems. Jessie struggles to keep her wits about her as this old house they bought needs lots of attention and Bella is more than a handful. The old mystery, never solved, regarding Audrey Wilde's disappearance intrigues Bella and she spends a lot of time obsessing over it and actually finding some objects that might or might not be related.
I liked this story of two families, both struggling with emotional issues and grief. This book has the mystery of the missing girl from long ago, but it also has a poignant story of sisters and their bonds and relationships. Each sister is unique and the author's characterization is well done. Margot takes the lead telling the story in the past, with Jessie narrating in the present. There are Gothic overtones, as one might expect with an old house and overgrown garden. There are secrets to be revealed. And there is love and understanding in the end. This one is recommended.
Four sisters. One summer. A lifetime of secrets.
When fifteen-year-old Margot and her three sisters arrive at Applecote Manor in June 1959, they expect a quiet English country summer. Instead, they find their aunt and uncle still reeling from the disappearance of their daughter, Audrey, five years before. As the sisters become divided by new tensions when two handsome neighbors drop by, Margot finds herself drawn into the life Audrey left behind. When the summer takes a deadly turn, the girls must unite behind an unthinkable choice or find themselves torn apart forever.
Fifty years later, Jesse is desperate to move her family out of their London home, where signs of her widower husband’s previous wife are around every corner. Gorgeous Applecote Manor, nestled in the English countryside, seems the perfect solution. But Jesse finds herself increasingly isolated in their new sprawling home, at odds with her fifteen-year-old stepdaughter, and haunted by the strange rumors that surround the manor.