Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Review-The Lost Child by Ann Troup


Mandy Miller disappeared from Hallow’s End when she was just 3 years old. She was never found.
Thirty years on, Elaine Ellis is carrying her mother’s ashes back to Hallow’s End to scatter them in the place that she once called home. Elaine has never been there, but it’s the only place Jean talked about while she was growing up – so it seems as good a place as any.
As Elaine settles into her holiday cottage in the peaceful Devonshire village, she gets to know the locals; family she never knew she had, eccentric and old-fashioned gentry, and new friends where she would least expect them. But she is intrigued by the tale of the missing girl that the village still carries at its heart, and which somehow continues to overshadow them all. Little does she know how much more involved in the mystery she will become…


This story opens with a wonderful description of Elaine driving to a holiday home with the ashes of her mother Jean, in the car – intending to scatter them at Hallows End where Jean once lived.

Elaine was difficult to engage with at first, but it soon becomes clear that her upbringing has unusual in that she has been closeted in a semi-abusive relationship with her controlling mother – as a result she is naïve, insecure and introverted. She relishes the final breaking of the bond with Jean, but also feels guilty about it and has to fight to let her go mentally.

I loved the use of Jean’s ashes as a constant presence insinuating themselves into the world of the living as if unwilling to let go. Slightly creepy and  brilliantly handled although I don’t think it was meant to be a paranormal element as some reviewers believed, more a constant and physical reminder of Jean’s insidious influence. 

The character of Brodie, who latches onto Elaine, is a fifteen-year-old girl from a council estate who hid behind baggy clothes and had learned very early that all grownups in her life have lied to her and will always let her down. Yet the child in her refuses to stop loving them no matter how they behave. The drunken mother, the avaricious sister, the disinterested brother. She latches onto Elaine and they have a unique mother/child relationship which keeps alternating.

The story isn’t so much about who the missing Mandy Miller is, but what happens to the lives of those involved when the truth is revealed. An unusual, beautifully written mystery

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