For a while now, Rachel Hore has been my favourite modern middlebrow author. (See previous reviews here.) In this book, Ms Hore uses her familiar ‘backwards and forwards in time’ technique to the usual good effect, teasing the reader with a mystery from the past. The linking factor here is the world of publishing. In the late 1940s, a young woman called Isabel runs away to London and throws herself on her aunt’s kindness. Rather fortuitously, she gets a job with a publisher, and does very well. In the present day, Emily is a book editor, currently working with attractive Joel on his biography of a successful author, Hugh Morton. The latter’s best-known book, The Silent Tide, is about to be serialised on television and gives its name to this novel.
Emily is mystified when a person unknown keeps leaving information about Hugh Morton for her to find, and has no idea who this might be. The material reveals that Isabel was Morton’s first wife, and died young; it includes a written account by her of her marriage, which gives a very different impression from the one Joel is telling in his book. Emily becomes obsessed with the idea that Isabel is being erased from Hugh’s story and that Joel, for ambitious reasons of his own, is colluding with Morton’s formidable widow, Jacqueline, to present only one side of the story. The more Emily finds out, the more the surprises mount up and we wonder how she will persuade Joel and Jacqueline to present a more truthful account of events.
This is a really enjoyable read: interesting about publishing and social life in two different eras, intriguing in its mystery and with a twist at the end