That it started life as a movie screenplay is evident in the twists and turns of plot that wind their way throughout this novel – and the virtues and vices of each medium are displayed in this Dutch bestseller.
There are three protagonists – Ada, Marjorie and Esther – and the rapid filmic switching of perspectives and locations at times feels clunky. But Marieke van der Pol also has a talent for meticulously detailed characterisation, which, together with an assiduous translation by Colleen Higgins, bring these three women to life.
The author weaves a rich, vivid story exploring the intersections of luck and disposition that make up the course of a life. There is a journey at the heart of the narrative: a flight from London to Christchurch in 1953, carrying brides- to-be to join their fiancés. These women are yearning to escape their home lives, and, on board, fall under the spell of a bewitching bachelor named Frank. Only at his funeral, years later, does the truth emerge. It is the subtle emotional and psychological journeys – and the shackles impeding women from moving on – that provide the greatest engagement here.