Beverly Vernon has moved to Florida after the death of her husband to escape the harsh winters up north. She loves her new house – except for the numerous bricks buried in her yard. When digging out the bricks in a fit of pique after the rejection of her latest book by her editor she unearths a child’s bones. Because the bones were found with a dress, Beverly assumes that they belong to a little girl. The responding police officers are rather dumb and officious.
Beverly has two grown daughters who are childless. She wants a grandchild; a little girl to fawn over and love. She begins a new painting of a little girl. Then strange things begin to happen in her home. The portrait she has painted is not what she painted. It seems to be changing on its own. Is she going crazy? Senile?
When her two daughters come to visit, they also witness strange goings-on. The one daughter storms out in panic, while the other one stays. It seems a rift has developed in the family. But the sisters band together and defend their mother from an outside threat.
Beverly is determined to find out who the child in the garden is and what happened to her. When the bones are discovered to be those of a boy, not a girl, things get really interesting. A state police investigator takes over the case and the child is identified. The investigator is a woman named TJ Tadlock and she believes Beverly, as does the coroner Marcia Wengleman. This is a huge relief.
A woman who is a survivor of the family is found and tells her that her mother is still alive. She also tells a harrowing story of abuse and survival – at least for her and her sister. TJ tracks the mother down. She is now eighty-three and living in Alabama.
This turns out to be a remarkable story about a remarkable woman who has the insight and power to reinvent herself following both the death of her husband and the loss of her career. I really liked Beverly; her pantheistic notions, her relationship with her daughters and the ease with which she slipped into the role of caring for Sukie’s grandchildren. This is a well written and plotted novel. The events follow one another in clear and linear fashion. While on the surface, it is a story about the abuse, neglect and murder of a child, it is also filled with hope. I truly enjoyed the book. Although this is my first Nancy Springer book, I have the distinct feeling that it won’t be my last.
I want to thank NetGalley and Severn House for forwarding to me a copy of this marvelous book to read and enjoy.
- Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: Severn House Pub Ltd; Reprint edition (1 August 2019)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1847519148
- ISBN-13: 978-1847519146
- Product Dimensions: 14.1 x 22.2 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 503 g
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