Eve Chase’s second novel The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde is a dual timeline story about mothers and daughters, sisters, secrets and grief, which switches between 1959 and some fifty years later when new owners move in to the house at the centre of a tragic local mystery.
In the heatwave of 1959, four sisters arrive at Applecote Manor to relive their memories of hazy Cotswolds summers.
They find their uncle and aunt still reeling from the disappearance of their only daughter, five years before. An undercurrent of dread runs through the house. Why did Audrey vanish? Who is keeping her fate secret?
As the sisters are lured into the mystery of their missing cousin, the stifling summer takes a shocking, deadly turn. One which will leave blood on their hands, and put another girl in danger decades later . . .
Eve Chase’s gorgeous writing quickly drew me in to The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde; she conjures up Applecote Manor and its grounds, both as they were back in that heady summer of 1959, and in their current state of neglect as new owners come in and slowly bring the place back to life over the changing seasons. It’s been left with much of the previous owners’ furniture and possessions in situ, making it even easier to imagine this as a place unable to break free from its past or local superstition.
In the earlier time period, I found the relationships among the four Wilde sisters, affectionately dubbed the Wildlings by their Uncle Perry, interesting, especially seeing how the dynamic between them shifts over the course of the book. They’re certainly plunged in to a difficult situation. That this is likely to be the last summer which the sisters spend together before their futures start diverging, only adds to its poignancy.
There are sisters in the modern-day section too, which contrasts nicely with the sibling relationship of the Wildlings that is tested that summer of 1959. It’s not clear how close their more contemporary counterparts are in reality until they, too, are put to the test but factors such as their age gap, being part of a blended family and some worrying sleepwalking all have a part to play, as does the core mystery. Read more