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My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Many thanks to Net Galley, Pan Macmillan, and the author for a chance to read and review this book. All opinions are expressed voluntarily.
A haunting and evocative tale of a young orphan whose only desire is to belong, Sarah Hillary’s Fragile is fraught with emotions and a tense atmosphere. The story of Nell that I read with goosebumps on my skin and tears in my eyes, is dark and desolate, utterly compelling with a gothic overtone that was literally unputdownable.
Nell Ballard needs to be ‘needed’ and to achieve that she is ready to take over anything, thereby, making herself indispensable. Abandoned by her mother at 8 years of age and raised by a foster mother Meagan Flack whose only interest in life is the services money that would be paid to her, Nell knows nothing about love or care. Starling Villas was supposed to be the haven that she never had but the enigmatic Dr. Robin Wilder and his rota of work is nothing as she expected.
Nell’s desperate attempts to change herself seductively pulls at a reader’s heart. At times depressive, at times poignant the author deceptively encompasses the loneliness and madness that may lurk behind any closed doors irrespective of the social strata they belong to. Told in alternate chapters thru Nell’s present and Meagan’s flashbacks, Nell’s and Joe’s life at Lyle and the death of 6yr old Rosie is brought to light. The author thankfully keeps the derivative in a passive voice, it would have been heartbreaking to read the absolute disregard meted out to the children by Meagan.
It’s been a while since I read a good character driven story, Fragile has in fact everything manipulated by the desires and whims of each character, my only wish that there was something positive or light in the story, to overcome the resonating sadness left by this classic.
Everything she touches breaks . . .
Nell Ballard is a runaway. A former foster child with a dark secret she is desperate to keep, all Nell wants is to find a place she can belong.
So when a job comes up at Starling Villas, home to the enigmatic Robin Wilder, she seizes the opportunity with both hands.
Only her new lodgings may not be the safe haven that she was hoping for. Her employer lives by a set of rigid rules and she soon sees that he is hiding secrets of his own.
But is Nell’s arrival at the Villas really the coincidence it seems? After all, she knows more than most how fragile people can be – and how easy they can be to break . . .
A dark contemporary psychological thriller with a modern Gothic twist from an award winning and critically acclaimed writer who has been compared to Ruth Rendell, PD James and Val McDermid. Rebecca meets The Handmaid’s Tale in Sarah Hilary’s standalone breakout novel, Fragile.
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