This is a novel about a bunch of crazy women. Yep. Seriously. It's 1992 and Edie is thirty years old, moving back in with her parents, and is obsessed with a castle, a childhood book, and her mother's secret past. That's not so crazy, really, but the three old women in the mentioned castle are. Percy is a a domineering control freak. Saffy is afraid to leave the castle for anything. Juniper has moments she spaces out and doesn't remember a thing later. She is also obsessed with a man she was in love with 50 years ago who stood her up one stormy night..
Quick recap: When WWII first broke out, children in London were sent to live with families in the country. Edith's mother was about 13ish and sent to live in a castle with the crazy sisters (much younger then, mind you) and their controlling author/father. He wrote a book about a mud man that rose from a moat and terroized some children. Well, as Edith's father likes to say, the inspiration had to come from somewhere...
This was a very long book and I risk making this review too long of a review if I go into it much further. To make it as simple as possible, Edith begins to get to the bottom of why the sisters are the way they are. What gave birth to the sinister mud man? The secrets are revealed one by one. There's scandalous love affairs, mysterious fires, missing people, secret letters, and at the base of it all, one crazy man who manages to control everyone even from beyond the grave.
I was thoroughly engrossed in this book and found myself thinking of the characters and its goings on even when I didn't have it in my hands. That is the sign of a good, well written book. However, it is far too long for what it contains. My ARC ends on page 672. Some things could have been cut out, namely some of the 1992 stuff. As it is, it is so long that it allows me way too much time to ponder and figure things out. I had most of the outcome figured out by page 500 or so. (I was still surprised by one thing though.)
Laugh out loud moment: When Saffy and Percy were little girls, they apparently made a list of rules; things that old people do so that when they grew old they would know they were old and no longer act young and ridiculous. Here are the rules:
1. Professing strong and repeated preference for England when Queen Victoria was on the throne.
2. Mentioning one's health in any company other than that which included a medical professional.
3. Failure to put on one's undergarments whilst standing.
Thus, if you do the first two and fall down while putting on your undies, you are old! :)
I received this ARC from the publisher via Shelf Awareness. Any quotations may be changed in the final copy.