Set in small town Louisiana, this thought provoking narrative knits the theme of lost children, and the consequences of the loss in an engrossing story.
New York based journalist Charlotte Cates (known as Charlie), is grieving deeply over the loss of her four-year-old son, who died tragically of a brain haemorrhage. After weeks of despair and apathy, she eventually manages to drag herself back to work. The assignment she is given [somewhat] tactlessly is to research the disappearance of Gabriel Devau, the scion of a dynastic Southern family. Thirty years previously, the young Devau disappeared from his locked nursery, never to be seen again; so Charlie heads to America’s Deep South to attempt to unravel the mystery.
Charlotte meets the Devau family’s siblings, twins Sydney and Brigitte and their younger brother Andre, but is not allowed to speak to their seriously-ill mother, Hettie. Later we are introduced to a bewildering array of characters – relatives, servants, neighbours, some black and some white, including Noah, a protégé of Hettie, who has come to landscape the neglected gardens back to their former glory.
I have to confess that I lost track of the members of three generations of the Devau family, their tenants, and other local people, due to being engrossed in Charlie’s investigation. The plot, as they say, thickens and intrigues, so much so, I found myself totally gripped in the hands of a relentless storyteller.
The American idiom and American spelling, which I usually find distracting, melted away as the narrative held me in a firm grip. Though one does have to suspend disbelief at times; mainly related to the ‘visions’ that Charlie sees in her sleep, in her dreams speaking and touching the lost children that talk to her.
This is a long book, though if you approach it with a clear mind and time to spare - you are in for a treat, as this is a book that is totally engrossing.