Sunday, 22 August 2010

Other People's Secrets by Louise Candlish

The glamorous Sale family are holidaying in a luscious villa on Lake Orta.  Their stylish and confident air disguise the underlying problems that are simply on hold as Marty, the charasmatic husband and father brings his family together for possibly the last time.
Ginny and Adam Trustlove are devastated by the tragic death of their baby son.  Ginny has retreated from the world, whilst her husband is following the self-help and counselling route which creates further tensions as they try to cope with their grief by taking a peaceful holiday within the grounds of the Sale's villa.
I'm afraid I have to be pretty blunt about this one...sadly, not even the gorgeous setting of Lake Orta could redeem this book for me as it's just sooo gloomy.  The whole thing takes place within a fortnight and has a very limited number of characters that you hardly get to know or care about and this makes it feel superficial and claustrophobic.
Firstly the Trustloves.  Okay, so they're grieving, but they are mightily irritating.  I can't really find anything else to say.  The revelation at the end was unconvincing as I couldn't believe that Adam was sufficiently interesting to have any kind of sordid past!
The Sales are based on an idealised "Boden" family and the descriptions of the family business describes the company's catalogues and media coverage exactly.  Bea is quietly perfect, Marty is dynamic and their three adult children are pretty thinly drawn.  Dom is agonising throughout the book over something that I didn't want to know and didn't care when finally revealed.  Esther (who was so redundant I couldn't remember her name) is beautiful and a lesbian but has no point to the plot and Pippi is an irritating, over indulged brat.
Bea quickly reveals that Marty is a serial adulterer and now the children have grown up it's time for her to move on.  The whole mix is stirred up by Zach who arrives in the town and is quickly leapt upon by Pippi, who fancies him as a romantic diversion.  Zach and the Trustloves are quickly drawn into the Sales' circle and tensions and subterfuge take over.
I usually love books set in Italy, but this could be taking place anywhere...there's little description of the lake (apart from it being cold and Ginny quickly gets fed up of visiting churches) and so not even that made me interested in going on.  It was too cold, removed and depressing for me to enjoy.  Sorry.