The Roanoke Girls - Amy Engel
Phew, this is one emotionally exhausting all consuming book. It's harrowing yet gentle, sad yet uplifting, its a contradiction in terms and I loved reading it.
It takes the deeply taboo and makes it feel like the norm. It immerses you in a world where nothing is as it should be, surrounds you with folk who live by unacceptable rules and makes you feel at home among them.
This is the story of the beautiful, rich and spoilt, daughters and granddaughters of the prosperous Roanoke family, whose wealthy lives out in the boondocks are privileged yet never to be envied.
Meet Lane, she's a Roanoke beauty, who's broken away from the luxurious family mansion to make her own way in the world. When she hears of the death of her childhood companion, her beloved cousin Allegra this means she feels obligated to return to Roanoke, the home of her rich grandparents to help her grandfather cope with his loss, for he adored her beloved Allegra too.
Lane wasn't born at the family mansion, her Mother struck out alone and Lane was raised up in a world of seedy apartments, of shifting moods, tears and depression, poverty and a distinct lack of affection. But all this ends at the age of fifteen after her mother commits suicide and Lane is offered a home where for a change she is welcome and wanted and loved. She has landed on her feet here, we think, the Roanoke girls want for nothing.
Moving fluidly back and forth in time the drowsy mesmeric quality of life one long hot summer erupts amidst secrets and lies. This is a coming of age with a difference.
The mystery which must be solved is what has happened to the missing woman Allegra? The question which are raised are what happened to
As Lane revisits her old haunts, rekindles an old flame and reluctantly becomes embroiled in the secretive and tenebrous world of Roanoke, the secrets buried beneath the veneer of respectability threaten to emerge and blow apart everything.
This is a hauntingly heartbreaking book of barely concealed deception, secretive lives and a few pretty despicable characters by whom I should have been angered but mainly pitied.