Marianne Stokes fled England at seventeen, spiraling into the manic depression that would become her shadow. She left behind secrets, memories, and tragedy: one teen dead, and her first love, Gabriel, badly injured. Three decades later she’s finally found peace in the North Carolina recording studio she runs with her husband, Darius, and her almost-daughter, Jade…until another fatality propels her back across the ocean to confront the long-buried past.
In her picturesque childhood village, the first person she meets is the last person she wants to see again: Gabriel. Now the village vicar, he takes her in without question, and ripples of ‘what if’ reverberate through both their hearts. As Marianne’s mind unravels, Jade and Darius track her down. Tempers clash when everyone tries to help, but only by finding the courage to face her illness can Marianne heal herself and her offbeat family.
I looked forward to reading this book because I have loved the previous books I have read by Barbara Claypole White. And it did not disappoint! At first I was a little disoriented as I started to read. We meet Marianne – a woman who has to cope with a manic depressive illness. At the beginning of the story she is about to go into a full blown episode of mania.
Marianne is a successful woman and a courageous one. Yet she has carried along with her a past that haunts her, and now is the time for her to confront it. She seems larger than life, very emotional – a little crazy! But she owns it.
Darius her husband loves and supports Marianne, he is a passionate lover, a jealous one. And one who intends to not repeat any past mistakes – to be the kind of person Marianne needs. He is a little larger than life too.
Jade is the young woman Marianne ‘adopted’ when Jade was fifteen and has supported and loved ever since as her daughter. Jade too has her past, she is tough, hard working and totally delightful.
Gabriel is the vicar in a local parish in England. He and Marianne have a shared past and were friends for years. His careful life is totally disrupted when Marianne, Darius and Jade burst upon his quiet rectory life. On the surface Gabriel is controlled, the perfect vicar. But underneath there is turmoil.
The story is told from the point of view of these main characters and I loved it all. I never disliked going from one to the other. It was perfect. All the characters are imperfect and I loved being with them as they journeyed, and I very reluctantly left them when they parted ways with me.
This is a story of family, of the burdens some carry from their past, of living with a mental illness. And that from the point of view of the person with the mental illness and those who love and support them and angst for them. It gave me insight and enabled me understand and open my heart to those who have the burden of such illness.