Review published on July 18, 2017.
I kept hearing about this book, so decided I wanted to read what it to find what it was about. Essentially, it is a family saga with plenty of disturbing drama that read a bit like a Famous Five adventure to me.
Starting in London in 1960, Maisy and her brother, Duncan, are 15-year-old twins. Their father, Alastair Mitcham, is stern and forbidding, their mother an agoraphobic of sorts due to paralysing mental health issues that cause her to remain in bed all day. Her condition is deemed to be deteriorating and so their father moves her to an asylum, which the twins are horrified to discover about by chance.
If this isn’t enough of a cruel blow, they are then shipped off to their grandmother’s home. A grumpy hard-hearted woman who has always made it clear she has no desire to see them. Thankfully Janice the housekeeper is very motherly and caring, and so is a life line for them. Through their explorations they come across a renowned woman who lives isolated in the woods and despite her being hostile towards them, they want to get to know her more. Aside this, there are kidnappings and murders going on in the area. Duncan goes missing and a thriller/mystery unfolds.
The book is easy to read. The characters are memorable, albeit very stereotypical. The twins are very likeable, but I am not sure I was convinced their mature voices truly reflected a teenager of such times, even when considering they have had a very unusual up bring without demonstrative affection.
This is not to say it wasn’t an enjoyable book; its approach was entertaining and it had a good pace and story development, but it wasn’t immersive and totally convincing. Saying that, I think it will still be hugely popular amongst Pearce fans, this being her 25th book, but more for those who like a light, superficial read.
Sara Garland 3/3
The Woman in the Wood by Lesley Pearce
Penguin 9781405921053 hbk Jun 2017
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