I have noticed that a lot of books I’ve been reading lately are all following the same outline, plots and layouts. Chapters broken down in to characters perspective, flashbacks, the inevitable romantic match coming together and while this book shared some of these same qualities, it did not seem to disappear in to the mass. It managed to hold its own.
The story starts with your standard, but well off, family of four. Dad, mum, daughter and son living your run of the mill day-to-day life. Sibling squabbles, the slight dyeing off of passion in a long marriage, teenage hormones.. Nothing to suggest anything out of the ordinary. Then a small incident snowballs an unravelling of secrets that spins this family in to chaos.
Our main character and mother of the family, Jodie Garrow – married to wealthy and well-known Angus Garrow – receives a call from her daughter Hannah’s school to inform her of an accident on a school trip to Sydney that has resulted with Hannah being taken to hospital.
As Jodie gets her affairs in order to go and collect her battered but safe daughter, she can’t believe her bad luck that her daughter has been taken to Belfield Private hospital. This hospital – chosen for its far distance from home – is the very same place where Jodie secretly gave birth to a little girl when she was just a teenager, but surely no one will remember her from so long ago.
Unfortunately, due to the webbing on both of Hannah’s feet (a rare condition), her nurse Debbie remembers seeing this on a baby many years back. When Jodie arrives, Debbie recognises her immediately and takes her for a coffee to reminisce. Jodie has to reassure a very pushy Debbie that she has adopted out her baby, Elsa Mary, and has no interest in contacting her again. Quickly excusing herself she collects Hannah, takes her home and not being able to shake her guilty conscience tells her husband the story. Angus, being no moral angel himself, advises Jodie it is all in the past and that they should leave it there. Now they are free to continue on with their comfortable lives…
Until Jodie receives a letter from Debbie.
Debbie has been poking around in old files, trying to find information on Elsa Mary, and discovers that there are no records of an adoption or even of the birth itself. This is all reported to the authorities. Jodie is forced to admit that her adoption was illegally organised by her hospital matron who is now deceased. The family immediately contacts their solicitor, who informs them that should Else Mary not come forward there is a chance this could turn in to a missing persons, and ultimately a murder case. They must go in to damage control.
Through dated flashbacks we learn more background information and important details of Jodie and Angus’ stories which become more and more tangled as the book progresses. Jodie is thrown in to media attention, almost all of which is negative and her family quickly begins to fall apart. She not only has to try to save herself, but also save her marriage and her daughter who seems to be spiralling out of control.
Just when you think you have this book all figured out it throws you another curve-ball and continues to do so until the last 2 pages where the real truth is finally revealed. I definitely didn’t see it coming.
I love the way that Wendy James has intercepted what could have been boring police interviews with the flashbacks themselves. So instead of hearing the characters tell the story, we experience them first hand. This is a clever tactic that I personally really enjoyed. I would definitely recommend picking up a copy of this book. It’s definitely not as typical as one might assume, I thoroughly enjoyed it.