Lacey Carmichael had lived in the same village all her life but she wasn’t the part of the community. Far from it. She was known as the mad woman, the witch, and kept at arm’s length. Her only friend was her next door neighbour, but he died. Lacey was accused of his murder and, though the police were quick to clear her of suspicion, her neighbours weren’t so sure.
Rachel Moore moved into the house next door. She’d had a difficult time, she needed a change, and as she was an freelance artist and could work anywhere, she decided to move to the country.
Rachel met Lacey before she heard what the neighbours had to say about her, and a friendship grew between them.
The story moved back and forth between them.
Rachel was very rational, very self aware, and her first person narrative reflected that. But Lacey was different. I wondered of she had mental health issues, or if she was in the early stages of dementia, and her third person narrative left me the space to wonder exactly who she was. That was very clever writing.
I was pulled into each woman’s story. I cared, and I wanted to know. Because they were beautifully realised, utterly believable characters. And because there was always something to think about, I could never quite predict just how events would play out.
Some themes echoed across both stories, but they were distinctive. Lacey and Rachel came from different generations, they had grown up in different worlds, and their experiences and attitudes reflected that.
It was difficult to believe that Lacey had endured through the darkest moments of her life, but sadly what had happened to her – and what became of her – was utterly credible.
I feared that the story was going to turn back to the death at the beginning, and questions about Lacey’s culpability, but it didn’t. It went somewhere much more interesting.
Rachel discovered something that contradicted things that Lacey had told her, but there was a final – very clever – twist, and she began to understand.
That brought a very well constructed plot to a close.
There were one or two points I might have questioned, but I didn’t, because this book was pitch perfect emotionally .
And it’s one of those books that is very difficult to write about without giving too much away, particular because the way that the story evolves is not as obvious as it may appear. If at any point you’ve thought ‘I know’ it is quite probable that you don’t, and that what did happen is rather more interesting.
It’s definitely worth finding out what did happen, and meeting Rachel and Lacey, first hand.
I’d say that it is an accomplished debut novel, and that Joanne Graham is an author worth watching.