Lucy’s mother died when she was thirteen, so when she marries Ollie Goodwin she’s hoping to develop a warm relationship with her mother in law Diana. Diana proves a pretty prickly customer, however, and by the time three children have arrived things are not good between them. One source of contention is money. Diana and cheerful husband Tom are wealthy and while Tom is happy to help out, Diana is firmly of the opinion that Ollie and his sister Nettie should rely on their own resources. This becomes a problem when Ollie wants to start a business and Nettie wants help with IVF.
The book is written in then and now sequences and through flashbacks we understand where Lucy and Diana are coming from. Diana didn’t have an easy time as a young woman and had to toughen up quickly. As is always the case, nature and nurture form character that in turn affects future generations. One excellent aspect of the novel is that the relationship between Lucy and Diana evolves after reaching a low point, becoming nurturing and even affectionate. The family faces various dramas but the big one comes with Diana’s death. It looks like euthanasia but is it? Certain things don’t add up and the police become involved.
The novel starts OK and improves as it goes along. I have a problem when a character says “I have done xyz” when people would normally say “I’ve ...”. While we’re being picky, I don’t think a woman of Diana’s vintage would say “There’s two pieces of advice ...”. She would say “There’re ...” or write it out in full: “There are ...”. Plural nouns need plural verbs. Yes I know “There’s” is used all the time now but not so much by older folk who learnt grammar. Good story though: well-plotted with well-realised characters who evoke an emotional response.
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