Moving between England, Scotland and New York from the 1980s to 2007, Claire Barclay experiences the loss of her father, her mother’s remarriage to Leo Harrison, a wonderful man; attempts to fit in with her older step-siblings, Charity and Marcus; and deals with the pain of first love in her new home.
Pilcher writes about the dramas of a young girl’s life with familiarity and a sense of place, the descriptions of a beloved landscape and the emotional attachments of Claire’s changed life. The influence of the author’s mother, Rosamunde, is clear in this work, but for all the similarity in style, this novel lacks some essential ingredients.
The loss of her boyfriend, Jonas, remains a source of pain, especially the fact that Jonas Fairweather turned away from Claire with no explanation. Years later, married and happy in New York with a young daughter, Claire’s ongoing affection for her stepfather remains consistent even after the unexpected death of her mother. Worried about Leo’s future when he shows signs of dementia, Claire returns to the scene of her first broken heart and the home her mother loved so dearly.
But something more sinister is at work. Charity and Marcus have never really accepted their younger stepsister or her mother. Jonas offers no explanation for his coldness as a conflict builds that puts Claire on an emotional collision course with Jonas and her step-siblings. The machinations are a bit difficult to follow, Claire and her husband, Art Barrington, the pawns of a treacherous game between serious enemies.
Become involved in this loosely plotted novel, which falls far short of real impact or depth, is difficult. Pilcher captures the essence of place and the confusion of childhood memories and adult reality, but often the drama seems much ado about nothing. If this tale is all life throws at Claire Barclay Barrington, she is a fortunate woman indeed.