A tragic family event reveals devastating news that rips apart Bella's comfortable existence. Embarking on a personal journey to uncover the truth, she faces a serious of traumatic discoveries that take her to the ruggedly beautiful Cornish coast where hidden truths, past betrayals and a 25-year-old mystery threaten not just her identity, but also her life.
Chilling, complex and profoundly moving, In Her Wake is a gripping psychological thriller that questions the nature of family - and reminds us that sometimes the most shocking crimes are committed closest to home.
In Her Wake by Amanda Jennings is published by Orenda Books; ebook 10 February 2016, paperback 1 April 2016, and exclusive limited edition hardback, signed and numbered, available from Goldsboro Books in February.
In Her Wake is the author's third novel and follows the highly successful, Sworn Secret (Canvas, August 2012), and The Judas Scar (Cutting Edge Press, May 2014). I read and loved The Judas Scar and reviewed it here on Random Things when it was published.
I can't remember the last time that I read a book in one sitting, my eyes are tired and red-rimmed this morning, I picked up In Her Wake at around 9pm last night and read the final page at just before 2am this morning. I dreamt about the book, the story has haunted me all day today. It is almost as though In Her Wake was written just for me; the story ticks every one of my requirement boxes, and although it is still only January, I have no doubt whatsoever that this novel will be in my top reads of the year.
From the atmospheric, evocative and completely gripping first paragraph, to the very last full-stop, In Her Wake totally and utterly hooked me.
Bella and her husband arrive at her childhood home. Her mother is dead and she has to try to comfort her grieving father. It is clear from the outset that Bella's relationships with the men in her life are fraught and quite brittle. It was her mother who dominates her childhood memories, whereas her father remains a distant, shadowy figure. A man who she never felt quite at ease with.
Bella's husband David is a controlling man, snappish and judgemental, with his implied criticism and his apparent lack of empathy.
Henry, Bella's father appears to have aged many years. He is just a shell of the man that she remembers. The house where Henry and Elaine brought up Bella, and that was Elaine's sanctuary and hiding place is colder without her. The soul and raison d'etre of both the family members left behind and the bricks and mortar of the house has vanished.
And then, Bella suffers another tragedy, and in the aftermath she learns that everything that she thought she was is a lie. Henry and Elaine hid more from her, and the rest of the world, than she can comprehend. The family had been bound together by a series of terrible and cataclysmic secrets and lies, and Bella knows that if she is ever to understand, or to find peace, she must try to unravel the complex and tangled mystery that Elaine began, and has left .... in her wake.
Bella finds herself in a small Cornish seaside town, following the cryptic clues that her father gave to her, and discovering far far more than she could ever have imagined. She meets people who are linked to her, people who have suffered because or her family, yet these are people that she didn't know existed. These people know more about Bella than she does; they know more about who Bella really is, who she was, where she came from.
In Her Wake is psychologically chilling, but it is also a beautifully observed story of a journey of self-discovery. Amanda Jennings' words are alluring, persuasive and so incredibly elegant, the reader is carried along effortlessly into Bella's world. Her characters scream with realism, her settings are well observed and precise and the insight into the human mind and the power of family relationships is both unsettling and convincing.
In Her Wake deals with family, with power, with desperation and with the mysteries of the human brain. It is is novel that will shock, yet also delight the reader. A powerful page-turner from an author who goes from strength to strength.
Huge thanks to Karen Sullivan from Orenda Books who invited me to read this very early copy of In Her Wake.
Amanda Jennings lives just outside Henley-on-Thames with her husband and three daughters. In Her Wake is her third novel. She is a regular guest presenter on BBC Berkshire's weekly Book Club, and enjoys speaking at literary festivals, libraries and book clubs.
When she isn't writing she can be mostly found walking her dog and dreaming of being up a mountain or beside the sea.
She writes a blog and is an active user of social media.
Find out lots more about Amanda, her books and her blog on her website www.amandajennings.co.uk
Follow her on Twitter @MandaJJennings