Sylvie Durand is the divorced mother of a 13-year-old girl, Emma. For the past ten years they’ve lived in London, but Sylvie suddenly receives a solicitor’s letter warning her that her old family home in the south if France has been damaged by fire. Reluctantly she returns to Provence with Emma, deciding to sell the rambling old house.
Emma last lived in La Reverie when she was only four; her memories are vague and Sylvie has tried hard to keep them that way. Because Emma had an older sister, Elodie, ostensibly a perfect, beautiful child, but in the grip of a troubled and toxic personality disorder manifesting itself as a cruel and evil hatred of her mother.
When Sylvie and Emma arrive at La Reverie they find immediate haunting ghostly signs of Elodie’s malevolent presence and Sylvie’s mind begins to unravel. She’s told Emma only that she had a sister who died. But now, a decade later, the dreadful reality of Elodie’s psychopathic personality, the shocking things she did, are slowly revealed.
Sylvie’s ex-husband, Greg, is now re-married with a new family. It becomes clear that their former marriage, initially happy, broke down because of Elodie’s determination to set her parents cruelly against each other.
Although there’s a thread of dread running through this compelling book, there are also enjoyable snippets about Provencal village life, suspicious locals, attractive solicitors, and endless sunny days. Emma wants to stay in La Reverie forever, but Sylvie dreads her finding out the truth about her sister.
This is everything you could wish for in a summer read – suspense and danger, set in a blissfully beautiful place.