His life was destroyed by a lie. Her life will be ruined by the truth.
Joely tells other people’s secrets for a living. As a ghost writer, she’s used to scandal – but this just might be her strangest assignment yet. Freda has never told her story to anyone before. But now she’s ready to set the record straight and to right a wrong that’s haunted her for forty years. Freda’s memoir begins with a 15-year-old girl falling madly in love with her teacher. It ends in a way Joely could never possibly have imagined.
As the story unravels, Joely is spun deeper into a world of secrets and lies. Delving further into Freda’s past, Joely’s sure she can uncover the truth… But does she want to?
Warning – contains spoilers.
I don’t normally start my review while still reading a book but I feel I must in case I forget how I felt at this time. Two thirds of the way through and I am totally confused. I no longer know who is who and what is what. Young Freda is really Joely’s mum Marianne (Linda) and Sir is Freda’s brother. Sir ( who is really David Martin and not David Michaels) left Marianne for Linda – his girlfriend travelling round India for three months – but Linda and Marianne are really the same person so how can that be? Joely is locked in a tower and her hair isn’t long enough I assume to do a Rapunzel so who will save her?
So how does Freda know the intimate details of what her brother got up to in Paris or in his uncle’s back garden, unless he told his sister, which would be really creepy. Is anyone who they say they are? How far will Freda go in order to defend her brother’s name apart from distinguishing a paedophile from a hebophile? And do we consider Marianne to be totally innocent as she was only 15? Oh boy.
Nearly there and things have changed dramatically. I know a lot of people won’t like this but it appears that the love between David (Sir) and Marianne (Linda) was real. Even though she was only 15. I think maybe the fact that he was her teacher is what makes it indefensible. He had a duty to his pupils and he let his desire overcome that. However 10 years seems a long sentence ( from what I have read about sentencing Laws in the UK).
It’s the end now and I have to admit that I thoroughly loved reading this book. I love the characters, especially Joely, Marianne, Holly and Freda. Just the women – funny that. But it is bonkers in places and there will always be that questions of statutory rape and teacher-pupil relationships and is there ever any excuse. I’ve known this happen twice (only one was regarded as Statutory rape) and in both cases the couples ended up married. The first was in about 1968 or 69. The boy was 17 and she was 13 – in the US they call this the Romeo and Juliet Laws. Yes he went to prison for about two years (this is because he was under 18). I was told later that when he came out they waited and got married just after her 16th birthday. The second was a teacher who had an affair with his pupil but she was 18 so no rape in this case. It was a scandal at the time because he was her teacher, but they are still married today and have two children now in their thirties.
For Sir and Marianne neither of these apply. He was a lot older than 17 and she was below the age of consent. I cried at the end, feeling sorry for all of them but then feeling guilty because I felt sorry for Sir and shouldn’t have. I feel that the author intentionally left us with this quandary and I know some of my fellow Pigeonhole readers thought that Sir deserved everything he got. I even felt sorry for Freda even though she locked Joely in a tower and was bat-shit crazy.
Then there’s Joely and Callum’s marriage. I know some readers were shocked that she took him back. But not everyone ends their marriage when things go wrong, especially under the circumstances. We only usually hear about the ones that do. However there are two problems here. It won’t be solved overnight. It may take years for the trust to be regained. But it’s mainly the fact that Callum chose Joely’s best friend, rather than a quick fling with a stranger. There’s the rub.
Finally, just before starting this book I watched Julia Bradbury on TV doing one of her Britain’s Best Walks on the Exmoor coast visiting Lynton and Lynmouth which made it even easier to picture the beautiful places described. And of course there’s the funicular railway! I adore these – they take me back to my first overseas holiday to Austria when I was 12 and we rode the funicular in Salzburg. If there’s one near I have to ride it. Even the dog loves it. I’m a bit obsessed. I’ve even considered touring the country from funicular to funicular, writing the history of each – but that makes me sound like those people who write about Britain’s best roundabouts… and we are not talking funfairs.
Many thanks to the Pigeonhole and my fellow Pigeons for making this such and enjoyable read. I shall be reading more of Susan Lewis’s work very soon.