I received The Vanishing Of Audrey Wilde in exchange for an honest review
I was sold on this book by the fact that it was a dual timeline mystery described by Lisa Jewell as ‘The most beautiful book you will read this year.’ I have to admit I felt a little let down as I started it; this book has been described as ‘beautiful’ and ‘evocative’ but I found the writing a little too flowery when it wasn’t necessarily needed. It took me a little while to get into the story as I took time to adjust to the tone of voice, but once I did I found a strong plot which took me by surprise.
At the centre of the story is Applecote Manor, a grand manor in the Cotswolds. In its time it was a pristine picture of elegance, but in present day it’s crumbling and dilapidated. The story follows two timelines and shows what one house can mean to two different people. In present day, Jessie sees the mansion as a fresh start; a chance to escape the bustling city life of London and build a life with her new family. In the summer of 1959, Margot and her three sisters also escape the city for a summer in the countryside, when they are sent by their mother to live with their aunt and uncle.
It was the period part of the novel which I really enjoyed, and I have to admit I found that Jessie’s chapters dragged at times. Margot’s chapters combine a coming of age tale with a sinister mystery, and the backdrop of Applecote at its finest really works. Margot’s voice as an insecure young girl was authentic, and the lavish prose helped bring the bucolic British summer and the hint of dark mystery to life.
This novel didn’t quite capture me the way I wanted it to, but it did grow on me. I think it’s the sort of book and genre I might have loved a couple of year ago, but my tastes have changed. It’s a rich, well-told story which incorporates elements of gothic mystery, coming of age and modern domestic drama. It reminded me a little of Kate Morton, and I’m sure it’s one plenty of people will love.