This novel follows a family tragedy and is set in a dual timeline – 1959 and 2018 – with excerpts from a book written about the events of 1959 in the years between. It’s the story of catastrophe and lost love and the need to know what happened.

On Christmas Eve, 1959, outside the small Australian town of Tambilla, a local man, taking a detour on his way home, discovers a mother and her children dead and one child missing. That discovery starts an investigation that ends with a finding of potential murder-suicide.

In 2018, Jess is a journalist in London, where she’s lived for twenty years. Her relationship has ended and she’s looking for freelance work when she gets a call from Sydney that her grandmother Nora, who raised her when her mother couldn’t, has fallen and is hospitalized, so she returns to Australia right away. At Nora’s house, Jess discovers the book chronicling the 1959 tragedy and thus begins her journey into discovering the truth of what happened.

This family saga had great promise. The writer uses prose beautifully and her descriptions are so clear you feel you’re right there.

Unfortunately, for me, the storyline was very slow to unfold, especially as it became clear where it was going. Granted, there were some unexpected touches along the way, but no big surprise twist ending that I didn’t see coming early on in the story.

3 stars