Reviewed by Kate Appleton
This is a dual narrative set in the Devonshire countryside. At the beginning of the novel we are introduced to pottery artist, Anna, who lives with her husband and two adolescent children. When a prisoner escapes from the neighbouring Dartmoor prison, Anne is struck by the remote location of her home and her insecurities and fears threaten to take hold of her. As Anne struggles with her conflicting emotions we are introduced to a fresh and optimistic teacher who is embarking on her first job. However, her aspirations are soon cut-short when she is subjected to a shocking attack at the hands of one of her students. As the two narratives are woven together events reach a shocking conclusion.
The structure of the novel is well orchestrated providing the reader with twists and turns and the ending brings an unexpected revelation. However it takes it’s time to really get going and took until well into the first half of the book for the narrative to present itself and spark an interest. In addition, this book has been wrongly promoted as a psychological thriller and there isn't much substance to the story with it depending more on the atmosphere of the moors to provoke any true feelings of suspense.
Again, the main character we should be identifying with is Anne, and unsurprisingly like the story she lacks any real depth until near the end of the book. The second narrative that runs parallel to Anne is much more engaging and heartfelt. The descriptions of her feelings before and after the attack are subtly written, but no less shocking. In truth, it was these brief instalments that made the novel worth reading.
One of the most striking features of this novel is the lack of positive male characters. It is quite distressing that they’re, for the most part, portrayed as violent, abusive individuals who are fixated on sexual gratification. This is an important theme of the novel, which has at its heart a vicious crime, and as a result the reader is given an insight into the short and long terms effects of this attack. This is a slow moving novel, which was disappointing as I wanted to be gripped from the beginning not two thirds of the way through. However, there is still a thought provoking message of unhealed scars buried deep within.
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