Three days and 182 pages later, the nanny still unburied, we are no nearer knowing the secret. It is July 1974, yet cow parsley still blooms, along with wallflowers, sweet williams and seeding lupins; apparently prophesying the Nineties, people talk of being "an item" and of lunching on radicchio. Various deeply embarrassing sex scenes have been described, and one reader, at least, has lost all interest in finding out about the dreadful taint.
The narrative is awkward and unconvincing. The descriptive style veers between one-word sentences - "Going."; "Plump."; "Trespassing." - and gruesome longer metaphors. When Unity tells her husband she fears she has cancer, for example, "his guts had torn into a jumble". The very first sentence describes the appearance of a nosy investigative journalist, with unpleasant sado-masochistic tendencies. He is virtually naked and "his sex, caught in its tight thong" is "juddering".
The denouement, if you can bear to wait for it, concerns a gruesome event during the repatriation of the Cossacks in 1945, followed by an even more gruesome murder. The effect of this on the reader is not hard to describe. It leaves you juddering. Sue GaisfordReuse content