Southern England 2005. Dr Nicolas Harper, retired neurologist, is being buried in a country churchyard beside his long-dead wife. A strange young woman attends the funeral. Soon after, Dr Harper’s daughter Hilda – who lives on the North Kent marshes alone but for her rescue cats – receives a visit from this same woman, who claims to be her half-sister. This prompts her to venture beyond her secluded lifestyle and explore the truth about her parent’s marriage: Was there another side to her father’s life as an eminent doctor? What really happened on the day of her mother’s death? Meanwhile Hilda’s brother Dunstan, weighed down by the loss of his job and the breakdown of his marriage, is appalled by the secrets and lies that are emerging. His desperation to preserve his father’s reputation and his own inheritance leads to tragedy on the Sussex cliffs. The shocking revelations about their background lead both Hilda and Dunstan to reassess their identities and future options. With flashbacks to Oxford in the 50s, and the London nightclub scene of the swinging 60s, the novel explores the darker side of an outwardly respectable family’s life in postwar England. Despite the rural setting and the cats, this mystery is not “cozy”.
Targeted Age Group:: 40+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
An unexpected discovery about my own background inspired me to write about family secrets that can come to light many years after the death of those involved, potentially with devastating impact on the survivors. The setting for the book was inspired by revisiting some areas of rural England where I grew up in the 1940s and 50s – the desolate Kent marshes, the cliffs of the Sussex coast.