* Prices may differ from that shown
Bea Kemp has reached a crisis point in her life. She is in her forties, childless, enjoying a tedious job and a lacklustre marriage with Frank. She seems to have spent her entire life 'being good' and it really does not seem to have got her anywhere. Her only pleasure seems to come from the time she spends with her niece and nephew, Laura and Adrian, and as her successful sister Katharine has no qualms about using her as an unpaid child minder, that's quite a lot! However, all that looks set to change when Katharine announces that she is moving away with the children so she does not need Bea to look after them. Suddenly Bea's future looks bleak and dismal and very empty. The next thing we know is that she does not turn up for work leaving many unanswered questions. As Bea's disappearance continues, those nearest to her and who probably took her for granted are forced to see what it might have been like to live Bea's life and that makes them feel quite uncomfortable. It is fascinating to see how all their lives start to unravel without Bea even though she seemed quite inconsequential when she was there.
The police and the missing persons unit are called in which results in Bea's house being searched and Frank treated as a murder suspect. However, no search reveals any clues and no one has any idea where she might be. What made this book so successful and intriguing for me is the fact that the reader has absolutely no idea either. In some books, one is let in on the other side of the story but not this one. I felt as perplexed as the other family members and, like them, I had no idea whether Bea was actually going to appear again or not. These feelings made this book so absorbing for me and I could hardly put it down such was my need to find out what had happened.
This is not a happy book but it is compelling and thought provoking. It has a quiet reserve just like most of the characters that take part in this story. It is sad how they fail to communicate with each other on many levels and is also sad as this probably reflects many people's lives today. It is also quite frightening how easy it can be for a person to just disappear in this world that we live in.
The characters who probably fare the best are the two children who genuinely love and miss their aunt and they are the ones who are most practical in how they set about looking for her. Laura posts videos on YouTube (this is definitely a twenty first century novel) and Adrian works out a route she might have taken based on places she had previously visited and loved. They are both hopeful and despairing and one can't help sharing these feelings as the story unfolds. I went through a whole gamut of emotions as I was reading.
I don't think that you can help but become caught up in this absorbing sorry tale of a modern day woman. You won't feel uplifted at the end but you will probably be glad that you did read it. You'll also probably appreciate the people around you just that little bit more too.
The paperback is currently available on Amazon for £5.61 (August 2010).
This review has previously been published under my name at www.thebookbag.co.uk