From the present day . . . Applecote Manor captivates Jessie with it promise of hazy summers in the Cotswolds. She believes it’s the perfect escape for her troubled family. But the house has an unsettling history, and strange rumours surround the estate. To the fifties . . . When teenage Margot and her three sisters arrive at Applecote during the heatwave of ’59, they find their aunt and uncle still reeling from the disappearance of their daughter, Audrey, five years before. The sisters are drawn into the mystery of Audrey’s vanishing – until the stifling summer takes a shocking, deadly turn. Will one unthinkable choice bind them together, or tear them apart?
The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde was a lovely historical mystery book that I knew I’d like as soon as I read its synopsis. You know I can’t resist a good gothic mystery set in a big house and Applecote Manor gave me exactly that. A disappearance, some creepy scenes and a secret kept during fifty years.
Jessie, her husband, her teenage stepdaughter and their little daughter move to Applecote Manor after several years in London. While we learn about their lives, we also travel back to 1959 when the Wilde sisters moved to that same house to live with some relatives when her mother decided to flee to Morocco. Their uncle Perry and aunt Sybil are still traumatized by the disappearance of their 12 year-old daughter Audrey five years ago. No one knows what happened to her.
Flora, Pam, Margot and Dot were interesting characters and I loved how the author managed to differentiate each one of them, as they all had distinctive personalities. My favorite was little Dot. The mystery as to what happened to their cousin Audrey had me quite intrigued and I admit I didn’t expect the ending, although it didn’t shock me either. I guess it all made sense in the end.
I believe the present storyline was the weakest part. I never lost interest and I finished the book in a day, but I wanted to read more about the four sisters and less about Jessie and Bella. I don’t mind dual storylines but I didn’t think this one was necessary, especially because the mystery didn’t have any effect on the present.
I’d love to read Eve Chase’s previous book, as it also looks appealing and I love stories like this that manage to transport me to another era. Recommended for fans of historical fiction.
ARC, Michael Joseph, 2017