... by Philippa Gregory
This book was recommended to me by a friend and what a book it is! I’ve read a number of Philippa Gregory’s books, but these have all been her historical novels. So it was a bit of a surprise to me to find that she also writes in the ‘mystery’ genre.
The central character, Isobel Latimer is an academic and a writer of novels. She has a husband, who through illness, is a constant drain on Isobel’s financial, emotional and day-to-day resources. When she discovers that her latest book will not bring in the much-needed cash to help them to pay their living costs, health bills and general expenses, Isobel finds herself being talked into a scheme to create a different type of novel under a different name by her agent, Troy Cartwright.
And what’s so strange about that, you might wonder. Lots of authors use more than one name for their work, mostly because they are writing in different genres where there is no natural cross-over of reader. But, the original idea moves beyond the creation of a story and into something very unnerving. Writers, be careful who you choose for your agent!
Isobel finds herself becoming further drawn into a web of deceit that causes her to question her own sense of truth. When her husband becomes interested in a project to create an in-door swimming pool in a barn close to the old farmhouse in which they live, Isobel comes under more pressure to provide funds for the project. Her life and her house are invaded by Murray, the pool man, and when he notices that some of Isobel’s trips to London may not be what they appear to be, the intrigue deepens.
This is a deliciously witty piece of observation of humanity at its best and its worst. Excellently plotted, with a narrative voice that carries you effortlessly from page to page, and beautifully devised prose. The characters glide from chapter to chapter and you just have to follow. A brilliant story and I could not put it down once I’d started it.