A mysterious, atmospheric debut novel. I found this a very compelling book with a Picnic at Hanging Rock vibe, a hint of Daphne du Maurier gothic and the nostalgic, meandering style of Kazuo Ishiguro.
The story is set in an isolated Catholic girls’ school on the coast. Windswept, decaying, old-fashioned, run by nuns and prefects, the school closed down after a pupil, Louise, and the art teacher Mr Lavelle went missing in 1990. The present day timeline is narrated by a journalist who’s trying to find new information and feels a personal connection to the mystery. However, the majority of the story is set in the school, narrated by Louise. She’s on a scholarship, an outsider who becomes obsessed with her new best friend, Victoria, who is obsessed with Mr Lavelle…
I liked the eerie, philosophical writing style. The book is quite slow-paced and is an exploration of topics such as jealousy, desire and sin. The last chapter really wowed me and lifted the book out of the ordinary. It was a beautifully-written and memorable ending.
First published in 2020.