Publishing year: 2014
This novel starts on a plane from California to London in January 1979.
A woman is travelling to London with her ten-month-old baby. She seems to be quite stressed, and the narrating voice is quite vague about what is happening to her. She mentions travelling through America and several names, but she says that she is starting a new life in England because she has to followed ‘his’ instructions.
Then the book moves forward in time. The narrator is Kali, a young woman, who has an eighteen-year-month child. She is at her parents’ home because her mother has died of breast cancer. Kali has a younger sister, Alice, and from Kali’s recollections, we know that the relationship with her mother has been fraught with problems. She has always felt that her mother never liked her as well as her sister. She also feels guilty because she never tried to patch up things with her mother before she died. We understand that her mother, Elena, was the narrator in the prologue, and she went to live in England after marrying Graham. It seems that there are secrets about Elena that Kali never knew. Elena was a scientist in America, studying the dolphins, but when she had Kali and moved to England, she forfeited her career. Elena was also quite depressed when Elena was very young, and I think she even neglected little Kali.
Now while looking through her mother’s papers, she discovers a letter from her father to her mother, and the letter implies that her father was feeling guilty, so Kali surmises he had an affair and then her mother forgave her. She also finds thirty-seven postcards from someone called Susannah with the same message, “Thinking of You”. Kali is having problems with her husband as she found some texts on his mobile from an ex-girlfriend, which prove that he is having an affair. Kali needs to escape her mother’s death and her husband’s affair, so she now plans to go to Vancouver. She has found there is an old man with the same surname as her mother’s so she hopes that he might be a relative and could tell her if there are more relatives. She also discovers that the Susannah from the postcards is an artist that owns a gallery, and thinking she might have been a friend of her mother’s, she plans to visit her.
I wonder what Kali will discover about her mother. I wonder if she is actually her father’s biological daughter or if the secret life her mother had hidden from her and her sister were from another direction.