Book Review: The Last Words of Madeleine Anderson by Helen Kitson

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A middle-aged woman. The hankering memory of a lost-but-perfect-friendship. A one-hit literary wonder. Gabrielle Price has tucked away the potential of a more fulfilling life and lives with her cat in a tiny cottage in a village where nothing much happens. She works as a housekeeper for the vicar, her days marked by routine, and her life seems no more set to change than the life of the sleepy village does.

Then Simon inveigles his way in, and everything does change. A mysterious letter-writer turns out not to be who they say they are but Gabrielle’s vanity has already entrapped her into a seductive but misrepresentative relationship with Simon. He arrives in her village during a snowstorm with a rucksack and no way of getting home, and Gabrielle is forced to take him into her home.

Throughout the narrative of this book we watch Gabrielle sinking into a murky mixture of desire and mistrust, led into the centre of the maze of Simon’s fury and need.
The truth of the past will have to come out in the end.

This is a beautifully-written book full of anguish and regret but in the end, hope. The narrative is unhurried but there are no extraneous words to slow it down. It’s clear to me that the author is a poet. And like every good story, it contains a dark secret. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoyed such books as Diane Setterfield’s The Thirteenth Tale and Claire Fuller’s Swimming Lessons.

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