The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde is the first novel I’ve read by Eve Chase and I was drawn to it by the comparison to novels by Kate Morton who is one of my favourite authors. I totally get that comparison as well, the writing style is equally as beautiful as Kate’s and the storyline very similar in that it juxtaposes between present day and the past, as the mystery unravels.
One half of the novel sets us in the summer of 1959 as four sisters; Margot, Flora, Pam and Dot go to stay with their aunt and uncle at Applecote Manor when their mother takes a job in Morocco. But it’s not going to be the glorious summers that they remember from childhood, Aunt Sybil and Uncle Perry and even the house itself changed irrevocably when their daughter Audrey went missing when she was only 12 years old.
Back in the present day, Jessie and Will are moving into Applecote Manor for a fresh start. Jessie is rejected by her stepdaughter Bella who craves the return of her own deceased mother. But after moving there they begin to realise there’s something not quite right and the mystery begins to unfold.
The novel is gripping but in a wonderfully slow paced way. The setting is beautiful and the reader is pulled into the world of Applecote Manor and it’s inhabitants. The romanticism of the missing girl and her cousins journey of coming of age for the four girls tied together by the events that take place in the heatwave of ’59.
In the present day we see the turmoil of a turbulent relationship between Jessie and her stepdaughter Bella who can’t get on no matter how hard Jessie tries. While Bella is haunted by the ghost of Audrey’s disappearance when she unearths clues in the ruins of the garden, Jessie finds herself haunted by the ghost of Bella’s dead mother Mandy. And Bella only seems to want to antagonise her further.
This was a really enjoyable novel overall and I’ll definitely be reading more from author Eve Chase in the future!