*First Published May 27th 2014*
Genres: Adult/ Historical Fiction/ Magical Realism/ Mystery
My Rating: 3 Stars
Deep in the woods of northern England, somewhere between a dilapidated estate and an abandoned Victorian asylum, fifteen-year-old Jane Standen lived through a nightmare. She was babysitting a sweet young girl named Lily, and in one fleeting moment, lost her. The little girl was never found, leaving her family and Jane devastated.
Twenty years later, Jane is an archivist at a small London museum that is about to close for lack of funding. As a final research project–an endeavor inspired in part by her painful past–Jane surveys the archives for information related to another missing person: a woman who disappeared more than one hundred years ago in the same woods where Lily was lost. As Jane pieces moments in history together, a portrait of a fascinating group of people starts to unfurl. Inexplicably tied to the mysterious disappearance of long ago, Jane finds tender details of their lives at the country estate and in the asylum that are linked to her own heartbroken world, and their story from all those years ago may now help Jane find a way to move on.
*Actual rating 2.5 stars*
My Thoughts: I can usually tell if I will like a book by the first quarter mark. I almost stopped reading; though, it did take me almost two weeks to finish it. This book is an acquired taste- not all will like it. I couldn’t get the complexity out of my mind. I don’t like to be confused when reading, and somewhere along the way it started to make sense- but then went off track again. And there were too many info dumps.
Going into this, I thought it would be a great mystery to get lost in. I mean, come on, it involves a missing child! I love the late 19th Century setting that this novel brought forth. However, the voices that came with it, not so much. This book felt all jumbled up. I can’t explain it any other way. There were too many voices and all the back and forth just about drove me insane.
I could actually keep up with Jane’s logic. She was so focused on the past and what she believes to be her mistake. With her being an archivist, sifting through the past must be daunting to her trying to piece together what happened to Lily. And that’s why I kept reading. After I finished looking bewildered, I asked myself did I skip chapters or something. There was no resolution here. What was the point of all the mystery and clues? If I missed it, please do forgive me.
Do I recommend? Not sure. I just don’t want to subject anyone to all of the overly done dialogue of ghosts. But, maybe an experienced reader of fiction such as this could get this book completely. I can’t count how many books I’ve read my whole life, and I know that this isn’t the worst one, but I just don’t get it. It’s not a bad book, just not for me.