Review by Tom Keech
Oh my, Georgina’s in trouble! She has a history of post-partum depression verging on psychosis. Her husband not only had (or is still having?) an affair with a beautiful ex-schoolmate, but he’s also lying about it. Meanwhile, he’s advising Georgina to go to therapy while researching how men can win custody by showing that the wife has been treated for a mental health problem. Then the femme fatale shows up in Georgina’s neighborhood, far from where she belongs.
But that’s a minor problem compared to the old woman who has secretly met her child and who wants him to call her “New Granny.” Her husband brushes this off as a child’s fantasy caused by recently losing his real grandmother. The child comes up with bizarre excuses for why he is talking on the phone to New Granny, while her husband pounds on the theme that she is becoming delusional. A strange figure seems to be lurking around the house. A mysterious person follows her in the street, and her neighbor is secretly burying something in his back yard at night. And, oh yes, her father has been covering up a long-buried family iniquity.
This novel is yet another example of the currently popular novel depicting young women with shaky memories, or a shaky past, or just the shakes, who are experiencing bizarre and even life-threatening events that may or may not be just figments of their imagination. Netflix has even mocked this genre in its suspense series entitled The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window. Author Rachel Ryan in this case did seem to go a little overboard in peopling Georgina’s life with too many suspects and suspicious events, and so the plot does seem just a little fabricated.
But there was one aspect of the book that I really liked. The solution to this mystery highlights yet another way in which the Catholic church has abused generations of young girls with systematic cruelty. This book is worth reading if only to appreciate the extent of that institution’s disregard for basic human decency. This factor, which is also the key to the whole mystery, is brushed over lightly; and this is maybe appropriate for a popular novel in the current woman-in-a-pickle genre. But it was nice to see a touch of reality in one of these very popular, very similar novels.