As I was reading this months first book, I was spending a long weekend in Kerry with my husband’s extended family. Nothing too sinister in the way of secrets involved, just a surprise 70th birthday celebration for his uncle. It had been planned over months and involved various relatives flying in or driving down to Kerry, caterers and, of course, a cake. All went off without a hitch, the birthday boy being left, for once, speechless. It was still interesting as a newcomer to the family to watch the interactions, the ancient but tolerated jokes and the acceptance of a few little irritations, which occur when a large group of people are forced together for several days.
The house we rented had access to its own private beach and there were some prior conversations regarding children and safety but as it turned out the beach was a good 15-minute walk from the house. Its easy to see how accidents may happen though. In such a big group everyone assumes someone else is watching the children. Fortunately, the most dramatic event of this kind that occurred was myself being forgotten about at the serving of the party food, as I was keeping an eye on a three-year-old niece in a far-flung corner of the house at the time.
That is the premise of this month’s book, a family gathering following the tragic and untimely death of a young member. Its One Year Later by Sanjida Kay and published by Corvus Books (www.atlantic-books.co.uk) on the 1st of August .
One year after Ruby -May, Amy’s daughter dies in a tragic accident, the family go on a holiday to an idyllic Italian island to heal and repair family relationships. Once they arrive, they find nothing is as it seems and at least one of them hides a shocking secret. Things begin to spiral out of control and Amy wonders if all of them will make it back.
I can only imagine the horror and guilt that occur when a child drowns on a family property, as a result of a moments lapse of supervision. This is what has happened to Ruby- May, although for a while it isn’t clear what happened to cause her death. Guilt and recriminations have ravaged what was once a close family. Everyone is questioning their actions. Ruby-May’s grandfather has been blamed as he, we are told, was supposed to be looking after her. However, there is some suspicion that he has started to suffer from Alzheimer’s, so is he really to blame? The family go away for the anniversary of the death. Their father turns up as an unwanted quest and there are some other non family members along for the holiday too, such as their nanny and their sister’s personal trainer. Nick, Amy’s brother starts to question the events surrounding Ruby-May’s death . Also it seems someone is watching the family in their holiday home, creeping around. You begin to wonder if the family is safe.
I liked the way Sanjida Kay told the story from both Nick and Amy’s viewpoints. This gave you a different perspective to events. I enjoy books where the story is told by a different character each chapter and you slowly get the full picture. Here there weren’t too many characters to keep track of either. The plot was rather like an onion, with layer after layer slowly being unpeeled (and occasionally making your eyes water!) There was a slow build of tension to a clever twist or two and a satisfying conclusion. In some ways this was Agatha Christie-esque with a limited number of suspects in an isolated location. There were a number of red herrings to distract you too as almost everyone had a secret. It certainly had me turning stuff over between reads!
Dante’s Divine Comedy is referenced at the beginning of the novel in an epigram and throughout by one of the characters reading it, and by his copy being seen in story locations. I have been thinking about its meaning in relation to this story. It has a link to the Italian location but I wondered if the author had referenced it in relation to the difficult path through grief or to the labyrinthine layers of secrets and pain to be worked through in this story in order for the family to reach a happier conclusion. I’m no scholar and it’s all a little too deep for me, but it piqued my interest. I wonder what others on the blog tour felt?
This is English writer and broadcaster, Sanjida Kay’s (www.sanjida.co.uk), fourth psychological thriller. The others are My Mothers Secret (2018), Stolen Child (2017) and Bone by Bone (2016). She’s also written a number of books of historical fiction including Sugar Island (2011) and The Naked Name Of Love (2009). As a result of her work on BBC televisions wildlife programmes she’s written books about nature and science as well as one looking at Mind Reading. She currently lives in Somerset with her husband and daughter.
There are similar themed novels to One Year Later out there, such as a particular favourite of mine, Liane Moriarty’s Truly, Madly, Guilty, which has been optioned for a movie by Reece Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman; but I see this giving that a run for its money. Its certainly a book I’d be recommending to friends, so don’t wait a year to get this gripping read.
Reviewed by : Georgina Murphy
This book is part of a Random Things Blog Tour, to see what the other reviewers thought of the book, please take the time to visit their sites listed below. If you read this book, please come back and tell us what you thought, it would be very much appreciated.