This is a haunting and moving book. The storyline is based around The Winters family who live in New York - particularly the three sisters: Caroline, Madeline and Ellie. When Ellie is five, she disappears and this breaks the family apart. The mother becomes obssessed over the next fifteen years by trying to find her and one day she finds a picture in a magazine and she becomes convinced this is the daughter she has lost.
The book is told through Caroline's eyes - she moves to New Orleans to be a cocktail waitress and to escape her dysfunctional family. She grows apart from them but then embarks on a search to find Ellie. However, at various points in the novel the author uses flashblacks and letters so you learn more about the parents and their past as well.
This is a well-written book, full of suspense and tension. It keeps you guessing right to the end, so is a real page turner - I read this in one sitting and it left me thinking about some of the issues raised in the book - such as family life and alcoholism.
In my edition (Ballantine)there was also questions and topics for a reading group discussion which was useful and this would be a great book for any reading groups -plenty to ponder over.
Don't be put off by the cover - it looks like an average book but is so much more.