The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde by Eve Chase
Opening sentence: “Applecote Manor, the Cotswolds, England. The last weekend of August, 1959.”
I’m just going to start by saying: I loved this book. It had the perfect mix of elements for me – a family based story, a mysterious vanishing, an interesting dual timeline narrative and beautiful writing. Recommended to me by a friend, it’s not a book I’d heard of before, and may well have passed it by otherwise, but when someone tells you they couldn’t go to bed until they’d finished reading it, you know it’s worth a read.
First we meet Margot Wilde, one of four sisters who spend the summer of 1959 with their Aunt Sybil and Uncle Perry at Applecote Manor. Their cousin Audrey used to live there too, until one day, she mysteriously vanished… This turn of events hits Margot particularly hard, as she and Audrey had been close in age and friends.
The second narrative is told by Jesse, set in the present day, she moves her family out of London to an old house in the country – Applecote Manor. She knows nothing of the house’s history or the Wilde family until she moves in with her daughter, Romy, step-daughter, Bella, and husband, Will. Then, slowly, the past starts revealing itself. There is subtle nod to the super-natural, certain passages gave me a little chill and there are enough heart-in-your mouth moments to add a great level of tension. Jesse’s own story is also perfectly balanced with that of the Margot’s, and adds an extra level of depth to the tale.
All of the lead characters were rounded and I did find myself caring about their outcome (always a good sign). Also, this plot-line could have so easily tipped into quaint country-drama territory, but it is a testament to Eve Chase’s engaging writing style that this never happened. It stayed sharp and relevant and I was completely engrossed all the way through.
We don’t get Audrey’s take on events, as the action is pieced together after she has vanished, but I found the conclusion to be really interesting and satisfying, it answers all the questions you have while reading. I don’t really have any faults with this book, so pop it on your TBR list now!