Rural Gloucestershire is six thousand miles and a lifetime away from Los Angeles, where Sarah has made her home for the past two decades. But she’s drawn back, every summer, for something of a pilgrimage – returning to the site of a tragic accident that happened when she was just a teenager, on a day that was to change her life forever.
But even in the midst of the shadow of grief, there is unexpected joy. When Sarah meets Eddie outside the village where she grew up, their connection is instant. They spend a week together, enchanted with each other’s company and almost delirious with happiness. By the end of the week, they both know that this is it. This isn’t just infatuation. This is something else.
Then Eddie leaves for the airport, headed on holiday. And that’s the last Sarah hears from him.
What follows is a spiral into increasingly erratic and desperate behaviour. She messages, calls, stalks his Facebook page, rings his business number. She can’t accept that this man – quite possibly her one great love – could have vanished off the face of the earth.
‘What I did that night would lie way beyond the splintered edges of sanity. But as I stood on the concourse at Victoria station earlier on, trying to reason with myself, I had realised that I wanted to see Eddie more than I cared about the consequences.’
In the coming days and weeks, she pores over every millimetre of their interactions, every second of their time spent together, desperate to see what was invisible; the cracks beneath the surface that would have foretold such an unceremonious, brutal rupture. Her friends try to let her down, gently. After all, she wouldn’t be the first person to have been ghosted.
The truth, however, is neither easy nor straightforward.
I was looking for a lighter read in the wake of finishing The Handmaid’s Tale, and I’m pleased to say that this one delivered. I enjoyed the structure of the book as it wove between letters, flashbacks and the present, and it developed a layered plot with an intelligent twist that turned expectations on their head. After the reveal, I found myself flipping back to previous pages for subtle hints at what was about to unfurl.
If I could have asked for one thing, it would have been to better understand Sarah and Eddie, the bounds of their identities beyond each other. That said, I especially liked the way that Walsh portrayed the bonds of friendship and family, in all their messiness and complexities, and our very human desire for connection, understanding and acceptance.