I received a free digital ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I was so excited to read this one because I absolutely LOVED Madam. You can check out my review HERE.
I thought I was getting a Gothic coming-of-age thriller type story. Instead, it was a book with absolutely terrible parents who did not at any point give a shit about their children - who were repeatedly sexually abused by the creepy-as-fuck dads.
Ruby and her family are spending August at their chateau in France, something they've done all of Ruby's life. They've come from England, as have some of her parents friends, who bring their daughters as well. To say they are wealthy is an understatement, and they all spend August being absolutely horrible to one another. The girls are abused, or all but abandoned as their parents do whatever they want without thinking of their children.
The story is told in two timelines, the main story taking place in 1985 and then the secondary one taking place in 2010. Honestly, 2010 was totally unnecessary, except to show how the trauma followed those girls throughout the rest of their lives. Otherwise, it added nothing to the book. The timeline felt very strange, as though the events in 1985 actually happened much earlier, and the events of 2010 could've happened in the 80s. It all just felt very weird and off.
There is a mystery, somewhat, but with all the secrets everyone had, it was still quite dull. The parents were always drunk and so many scenes took place during dinner, and everyone was just awful. All the time. It was never-ending.
I think of course this was not meant to be an enjoyable book, given the contents, but it was somehow disjointed and there was a disconnect I just can't put my finger on. I don't want to say it was the writing style, because I loved Madam so much and the style wasn't all that different.
Maybe part of it could be that I did not and could not connect to any of the characters. This is not a bad thing when considering how terrible all the adults are, some of whom seemed to actively hate their children, but the same is true for the girls. There was no connection and they were not always terribly nice either.
Obviously the story can not end well and comes to a rather violent conclusion. Many of the parents are old friends from college and over the course of the story it becomes very obvious that there are some simmering resentments and all sorts of terrible things just below the surface.
I will not spoil it, because I do think that others may like the book more than I do. And honestly, maybe I had this one built up so big in my head because I did love Madam so much.
Cautiously recommended, but if you really liked her previous book, temper your expectations.