BLURB: “San Francisco, 1958. On a dark December night, a baby girl is left at the Sisters of Charity Orphanage on Telegraph Hill. One year later, movie star Frances Fitzgerald takes her own life. Her husband, wealthy businessman Maximilian Stanhope, is rumoured to know more about her death than he’s letting on, but nothing is ever proved. What is the connection between these two events? That’s what Frances’ daughter, Cara, wants to find out. Abandoned by her mother when she was just seven years old, Cara’s childhood was filled with hardship and loss. As a young woman she finds professional success as a journalist, but on a personal level, she still struggles to trust those around her. Cara becomes convinced that uncovering the secret behind her mother’s death is the only way to lay her demons to rest. But learning the truth may end up tearing her apart.”
REVIEW: This novel was an absolute delight to read from start to finish. The story begins with the tale of young Franny Healey, an Irish girl with dreams of becoming a film star. After falling pregnant and being abandoned by the child’s father, she flees her family home and begins a new life in the East End of London with her baby daughter, Cara, living with a woman named Annie and her mischevious young son Danny. As more and more opportunities begin to open up for the ambitious Franny, however, she makes the decision to return Cara to Ireland, abandoning the child with a grandmother she has never met in order to make her name as Frances Fitzgerald, Hollywood movie star. From this point onwards, while Franny’s life changes in ways she only ever dreamed of, Cara’s begins to fall apart. After the death of her grandmother, Cara is sent to live at an Orphanage where the conditions are stark and the treatment almost unbearable. At the age of fourteen, she manages to escape to the East End of London where she was first raised, returning to the home she once shared with Annie and Danny. As the years pass, we are shown the stories of the lives of both women; Franny’s transformation into glamorous movie star and her marriage to millionaire Maximilian Stanhope, and Cara’s love affair with Danny, which soon turns sour as his darker side begins to emerge. After the death of Franny in a car crash, however, the book gains a level of mystery, as both the reader and Cara try to work out what exactly happened to Franny, and whether, as many characters suspect, her husband could truly have been responsible for her death. The book takes many twists and turns and the ending is a brilliant work of genius, truly surprising the reader. Although the ending felt a little bit rushed, the conclusion that this novel brings the reader to more than makes up for this minor flaw – finding out Franny’s fate was truly shocking, involving many complex plotlines and ideas, and served to make this into a novel very much worth reading.