Life at Charnley is blessed for the Jardine children, Harriet, Vita and Daisy, who live in an idyllic Edwardian country manor with their loving parents, Beatrice and Amory. But one night, after a party celebrating their mother's birthday, their dreams of a propitious future suddenly come crashing down when a family scandal catapults them into the headlines. Nearly four decades pass by and still the exact events of that fateful night remain a mystery. But when an old diary detailing their mother's voyage to Egypt is unearthed it finally seems as though some of the answers are within reach - until the shocking discovery of a mummified corpse in the ruins of their old home. Beautifully written, evoking the life of the Edwardian upper classes, bomb-scarred post-war England and the sultry Egyptian landscape, The Shape of Sand is a compelling novel you will wish was as long as the Nile.
REVIEW BY ANITA
The premise of this story is quite simple, in that in 1910, after a lavish country house birthday party, Beatrice Jardine's teenage daughters, husband and sun are shocked by the fact that to all appearances, she has run away with an exotic Egyptian visitor she met ten years before.
Of course the truth is far more complicated, and Ms Eccles weaves a multi-layered tapestry of emotions experienced by the diverse characters in the Jardine children, each of whom carry their own demons of their mother’s abandonment into WWII and beyond, suffering their own tragedies and getting their lives in order.
The events of the past are teased out with contrived slowness, combined with the emotions of the present which can be distracting in parts, but which made me feel this author’s deep and insightful writing requires close attention. This is not a book to be rushed, in that every personality is deeply drawn, leaving the reader to decide for themselves which of them have harboured a secret for forty years. Needless to say the story flows to a satisfying conclusion and wasn't spoiled for me at all by the fact I had guessed the ending.
I’m delighted to see there are plenty more of Ms Eccles’ books in which I can lose myself.