This was a digital copy provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My review is part of a “blog tour” for the book.
This novel sets off at a dizzying pace and, by the end of the short prologue, you are thrust into the panic and desperation experienced by the central character, Eve and her husband, Neil.
Eve and Neil are desperate for a child and family of their own. Unable to have a child, they decide to adopt and soon fall in love with a four year old girl, Milly, who completes their family. Suddenly, their dream of having their own family is about to be realised and their plans for building an idyllic life in Cumbria, far away from Eve’s estranged mother, are close to becoming a reality. The adoption process is progressing well and fast approaching a conclusuion and Eve is at last about to enter the future she has long dreamt of. Eve is so happy that she feels able to bridge the divide between herself and her own mother by sending a photo of Milly.
Then Eve’s world collapses when Neil calls and says that Milly is missing.
The fear, bewilderment and rising panic from Eve is tangible; the author, Zosia Wand, really punches home these emotions and doubts. The early chapters are gripping the search for Milly is launched. The following tale is a tense, psychological thriller about families and the lies they tell and the dark secrets they harbour from each other. This is a tale that focusses on Eve’s fears and her own perceived inadequacies about herself as a daughter and her ability to be a good mother, and on her doubts and suspicions about Neil; suspicions that have been raised by her own mother’s terrible accusations against him. Soon the future that Eve has longed for and her happiness with Milly and Neil is in danger of crumbling away from her.
After the breath taking early part of this story, I felt that it relaxed a little and I wondered where it was going for a little while. Then, at just under half way through, the tension and pace rises dramatically and the book builds to a satisfying and page turning ending – I was up until 0245 reading the final 50% of this book. My wife and out two dogs were fast asleep beside me as I devoured the pages.
Eve is a complex character full of insecurities, fears and conflicting desires; I quite liked her. Her friend, Naz, is ballsy, direct and strong. Milly is interesting too, she may be only four years old but she displays a keen sense of judgment. Zosia Wand has created one especially satisfying and truly horrible character – one that I am sure you will all be delighted to hate – but I won’t spoil your reading by saying which one. You’ll know soon enough!
I enjoyed this book. I found it exciting and intriguing with characters that I cared for and enough twistyness of plot to keep me hooked. This is a very good read and one that I am sure many readers will enjoy.
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About the author:
Zosia Wand is an author and playwright. She was born in London and lives in Cumbria with her family. She is passionate about good coffee, cake and her adopted landscape on the edge of the Lake District. Her first novel, Trust Me, was published by Head of Zeus in 2017.
What Is A Family? by Zosia Wand
I am often asked how I come up with my ideas. The truth is that a novel or a play are usually two or three ideas that come together. A situation I want to explore, a character that intrigues me and something I want to say. So, my first novel, Trust Me, started with three ideas. Firstly, a character in a difficult situation: a young, not-quite-step-mother to a teenage boy. Secondly, grooming, and how society tends to assume teenage boys are less vulnerable than teenage girls. Thirdly, the juxtaposition of a dark story against the beautiful backdrop of the Lake District. My new novel, The Accusation, takes that same beautiful setting for a dark story, follows the adoption process as Eve and Neil adopt four-year old Milly and explores the theme of motherhood. What assumptions do we make about mothers and how they should be? At what point does a mother’s love become obsessive, even toxic?
I am interested in complicated family dynamics and the way characters create relationships in order to survive and support one another. The traditional nuclear family: Mum, Dad and two children, is no longer the norm in Britain. Divorce is common and remarriages, gay marriages and some very interesting and successful alternative arrangements exist all around us. This is beginning to be reflected in novels, films and television, but it’s taken a while, and we are only just scratching the surface. My stage play, Quicksand, featured a family of three. Two women and a teenage boy they had brought up together. They were not a gay couple, but two Polish migrants. Renata was the breadwinner and business woman, and Ula, to all intents and purposes, was her ‘wife’. She took care of Renata’s son and managed the house. Her undefined role as housekeeper and unacknowledged mother to Leo, form the heart of the story. Sally Wainwright’s hugely successful television series, Happy Valley, featured a similar family set up, with Sarah Lancashire’s grandchild, the son of the psychopath who raped her daughter, being brought up by his grandmother and her sister. That family set up is unusual and not without its difficulties, but all the warmer and richer for that. My next novel, The Treehouse, will focus on two minor characters from The Accusation, Eve’s next-door neighbour, India and her ‘mother’ Kath. Kath is not, as Eve assumes, India’s mother. Kath’s daughter, Julie, lives in London. India is Julie’s best friend and almost-sister, Kath’s unofficial foster daughter. Almost daughter and almost sister. The ‘almost’ is the heart of the story. India stayed in Tarnside while Julie moved away and Kath finds it easier to be with India than she does Julie. So, what happens when Julie moves back?
It’s these undefined, unacknowledged relationships that interest me, because they are often the most unexpected and generous, and also the most vulnerable. There is no precedent to follow, no previous experience. When these relationships are put under pressure from an external source, they are forced to define themselves and sometimes, fight to survive. It’s the gap between the familiar, what we understand to be the norm, and what has been forged from necessity provides me with a rich seam for stories. I like, what I call, salvaged families. Individuals who come together, often as a result of painful event, to create a unit of support. It’s not just mothers who do the mothering in our society. I send several cards out on Mother’s Day every year for this very reason. There are a number of individuals I am compelled to thank for providing me with the love, support and advice I have needed in this life. Aunts, neighbours, older, wiser friends. The person who really mothered me was not a blood relative and someone I spent just two months of the year with, but when I shower my children with kisses and prepare their food and really love them, it’s her I remember. Ciocia (Aunty) Marysia. The lifelong friend and companion of my grandfather’s spinster sister, Zosia, in Poland. I am named after them and was loved by them both, but it was Marysia who did the mothering. She was an orphan, brought up by nuns and had no mother of her own, but her love bridged the physical distance that divided us for most of the year and overcame the difficulties of Soviet rationing, censorship and martial law to shower me with treats. She was my safe haven and every story I tell is a tribute to the family she created simply through love.
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