Many thanks to the author and THE Book Club (Facebook) for an advance copy of this book in return for an honest review.
Edie has returned to Number 17 Coronation Square after an absence of 30 years. It is not a happy reunion. She’s here to clear out the house after the death of her aunt Dolly, its last occupant, and almost as soon as she arrives she feels a crushing depression settling upon her. It’s not only that she feels bereft and quite alone in the world, having left her abusive husband and uncaring son, or that her sister has gone swanning off on a cruise, leaving her to handle this unenviable job, but the house and the square that it sits on seem to have a cloying magnetism that draw her in and drag her back into a past that bears no resemblance to what she remembers.
With a cast of characters, most of which seem to have hidden agendas and split personalities, Ann Troup gives us a seedy view of an unsavoury side of London life that is probably a lot more rife than we’d like to believe. There was something of the ‘Olde Worlde’ in the telling of this story, and this added to the atmosphere. Throw in the fact that there are 5 unsolved murders that happened on the Square many years ago, and a regular murder tour that does the rounds, fuelling people’s macabre tastes, and there’s even more mystery to delve into here than in an episode of The Twilight Zone!
But, the people of the Square have managed to carry on their lives here, quite undisturbed … until Edie arrives to clear out Number 17 and unwittingly discovers that somewhere in the mess that her aunt has left behind, she, and some others along the way, have left a few things that some would rather were left untouched.
The story starts off rather slowly and plods along at a bit of a maddening pace for a while before picking up. I couldn’t really warm to Edie. I kept getting the feeling that I was supposed to feel sorry for her, in fact I know I was! She really was down in the dumps and not necessarily through any fault of her own, but I just couldn’t get to like her! I did like Dolly’s neighbour Lena – this poor, elderly lady, who’d stayed on the Square through all this time, watching it deteriorate, yet still trying to keep up appearances, knowing her son is a thug, yet still trying to act like a ‘Jolly Old Mum’, because that’s just what you do, isn’t it? And I adored Sophie, the teenage runaway who turns up on Edie’s doorstep and lands up staying because she has nowhere else to go – sometimes home just isn’t an option!
Because that’s the thing about Ann Troup: she writes real characters! They’re real people. You don’t have to like them all; just like real life, where you don’t like everyone. They’re identifiable and realistic and could be your next-door neighbours. They have issues and challenges and she threads the story through them all until she guides you to the very skillful conclusion.