By Harriet Lane
Frances Thorpe works as a literary editor for a struggling London, England newspaper. One winter night, she comes upon an automobile accident and comforts the victim in the last moments of life. The woman was Alys Kyte, wife of Laurence Kyte, a famous author. After meeting with the widower and his two children, Frances begins to see her life changing. She develops a relationship with the daughter and eventually Laurence. Her acquaintance with Laurence also helps her at work. As the months pass, she can never quite get away from the veil of influence Alys had on the family, all the while inexorably surpassing it.
This would be classified under ‘literary fiction.’ The plot is basically how a woman’s life changes after the death of someone she never knew and the family left behind.
Frances Thorpe: literary editor for a London newspaper, parents still alive. One sister and two nephews. Enjoyed stamps, C.S. Lewis and Wilder as a child. Plays chess
Polly Kytes: 19, enrolled in drama college, went to school until 16, taught in South Africa, recently ended a relationship with an acting trainee, smoker
Mary Pym: literary editor and Frances’ supervisor, self centered, butters up to successful clients, smoker, has children
Lane did a masterful job creating the characters. Very well defined and I was interested in all of them. Frances’ mother is quite a unique character.
Very well defined voices, especially Polly’s. Surprisingly, Frances doesn’t speak too often and when she does, it’s in reaction to others. Only near the end does she show some courage to speak up for what she wants.
First person from Frances’ POV. Present tense. No chapters, just scene changes. Very good use of words and language. Profanity from Polly, mostly. Not sure if it’s necessary and each time it’s used, it’s a little bit of a shock, but interesting use of it. Subtlety is the key. I felt reading this that everything was a bit surreal, not in a drug induced haze sort of way, just under a very thin veil. You’re expecting tragedy and you receive deep insight. I enjoyed Lane’s descriptive words and use of British terms. She uses words not often seen in novels. Yes, this book is for women but there is some excellent and deep insight. Because of the masterful language I’ve bumped up my ranking to: