by Eve Chase
“You don’t need to do anything, Jessie. Don’t you see? She just needs to know you are there for her, whatever crap she throws at you.” He pokes the fire with the iron. The logs move, settle into new places. Jessie feels something moving inside her, too. “And she’s thrown lots and lots of crap at you, I do know that, Jessie. And you’re still there.” “Hanging on by my bloody fingernails.”
The Wildling Sisters was a very good book and very well written despite an over-reliance on similes and metaphors. It consists of dual timelines that take place around 50 years apart. Both plots are connected by the setting, Applecote Manor, deep in the English countryside. In 1959, 4 sisters go to live temporarily with their aunt and uncle who are still reeling from the disappearance of their beloved daughter, Audrey, who was also very close to the 4 sisters, especially the sister who is the narrator of this timeline, Margot. The second timeline is about the new family that buys seemingly abandoned Applecote Manor. Meet Jesse, her new husband, Will, their toddler daughter, and his hostile and troubled teenage daughter, Bela. He is a widower and his dead wife, Mandy, is also an overshadowing influence in the novel. I was continually reminded of Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier.
**Spoiler**As it turns out, the relationships of dead Mandy to her family and Will’s new wife turn out not to be similar to the du Maurier novel. But we are kept wondering as to whether Mandy was a positive or negative factor due to the resemblances of Jesse’s challenges to the heroine’s in Rebecca **end spoiler**
As praiseworthy as I found this book, I didn’t enjoy it as much as the first book I read by the author, The Daughters of Foxcote Manor. It starts out very intriguingly, but there is a long stretch in the middle which was quite slow. It seemed to get stuck. The mystery of what happened to Audrey is a main interest of both timelines, and the answer was underwhelming to me. I was not drawn in by the characters of the 4 sisters or their doings. I identified more with modern-day Jessie and was more interested in her fraught relationship with Bella and invested in her marriage with Will.
As in Foxcote, Ms Chase formulates a great ending, bringing the two timelines together, and adds a little twist or two. I am a reader who hates it when the author leaves plot and character threads dangling and what “happened next” to my “imagination”. Hey, It is the author’s book written for the enjoyment of the customer (me). Don’t make me do the work. This is not a DYI project. What I love about the two books I’ve read by Ms Chase is that she tells what happened to everyone in a carefully fashioned and interesting conclusion. I love closure. It was touching and very right. I loved it and it made the book well worth reading. ***3 1/2 stars.**
October 22, 2020