A contemporary psychological thriller in the style of Ruth Rendell, from one of today’s most versatile and compelling storytellers.
It was easy for Elizabeth. She married the man she loved, bore him two children and made a home for him which was the envy of their friends.
It was harder for Ruth. She married Elizabeth’s son and then found that, somehow, she could never quite measure up…
Isolation, deceit and betrayal fill the gaps between the two individual women and between their different worlds. In this complex thriller, Philippa Gregory deploys all her insight into what women want and what women fear, as Ruth confronts the shifting borders of her own sanity. Laying bare the comfortable conventions of rural England, this spine-tingling novel pulses with suspense until the whiplash double-twist of the denouement.
‘Fiendishly plotted… this is Gregory at her most convincing. Sunday lunch with the in-laws will never be the same again’
‘Insidiously gripping’ Independent
‘Brilliant psychological chiller… utterly, nail-nibblingly plausible. You will relish its explosive climax and be gripped through to its final superb double-twist finish’ Daily Mail
About the author
Philippa Gregory is an internationally renowned author of historical novels. She holds a PhD in eighteenth-century literature from the University of Edinburgh. Works that have been adapted for television include A Respectable Trade, The Other Boleyn Girl and The Queen's Fool. The Other Boleyn Girl became a major film, starring Scarlett Johansson, Natalie Portman and Eric Bana. Philippa Gregory lives in the North of England with her family.
Gregory's sixth novel moves from her usual historical fiction (A Respectable Trade, etc.) to a contemporary tale that treats familiar, middle-class domestic ground with a horrific tilt. Every Sunday, Ruth and Patrick Cleary, a young English couple married just four years, visit Patrick's parents in Bath. Both Ruth and Patrick work in news production, but even in the common area of career the balance of attention tips heavily toward Patrick. Ruth feels like an outsider in the close-knit Cleary family, and Patrick and his parents are oblivious to her pain. Orphaned since childhood, Ruth has always yearned for love and a sense of belonging. In the first flush of passion, Patrick promised these; he even promised to help Ruth recover her lost childhood by traveling back to her childhood home in Boston. Snugly married and absorbed by his career, however, Patrick has lost track of his wife and his promises. When the cottage at the end of the lane from his parents' manor house comes up for sale, he sells the Bristol condo Ruth loves without a thought. Ruth soon becomes a poster-girl for co-dependence: she loses her job and unwillingly becomes pregnant. After her son is born, she sinks into depression, allowing her mother-in-law to take over completely. Finally, she is manipulated into a "rest home" where she becomes zonked on antidepressants. Hitting bottom, Ruth rallies, only to take control of her life in a joltingly twisted way. Gregory writes smoothly enough, but her insights into the dysfunctional family are only pedestrian, laying fallow ground for a surprise ending that neither horrifies nor enlightens.