Title: The Only Child
Publisher: 31st August 2022 by Hachette Australia
Pages: 353 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: historical fiction, suspense, crime thriller
My Rating: 4 cups
A decades-old crime threatens to tear apart three generations of women in this unputdownable mystery that will keep you gripped until its last heart-wrenching page.
Almost every graduating class had a girl who disappeared.
1949 It is the coldest winter Orcades Island has ever known, when a pregnant sixteen-year-old arrives at Fairmile, a home for 'fallen women' run by the Catholic Church. She and her baby will disappear before the snow melts.
2013 Frankie Gray has come to the island for the summer, hoping for one last shot at reconnecting with her teenage daughter, Izzy, before starting a job as a deputy sheriff. They are staying with her mother, Diana, at The Fairmile Inn, soon to be a boutique hotel, but when an elderly nun is found dead in suspicious circumstances, and then a tiny skeleton is discovered in the grounds of the house, Frankie is desperate for answers.
At once an evocative, unsettling tale of past misdeeds and a crime thriller that will have you reading with your heart in your mouth, The Only Child is compulsively addictive storytelling from the international bestselling author of The Silk House.
With her latest offering, The Only Child, Kayte delivers the perfect dual crime narrative. This style is an evolution from Kayte’s previous books and I enjoyed it. I am a fan of her work and was looking forward to this historical story with the promise of an engaging mystery.
Kayte writes a tightly suspenseful tale about a crime from the past. Part historical fiction, part crime suspense, part family connections, Kayte gives her readers, at times, a horrific yet hopeful tale. From the shame of a pregnancy out of wedlock in the 1950s, to the current day parallel of single motherhood, all woven together with a mystery from the past that has returned to haunt the people from this small island.
This book could not be more topical given the current fight for women’s reproductive rights especially in the USA. In her Acknowledgements, Kayte notes the number of adoptions in that country between the years 1945-1973 - 1.5 million. Whilst much has been written from the perspective of the adopted child, Kayte chose to focus on the women who had to heartbreakingly give away their babies.
The Only Child moves between Frankie’s story in 2013, and the story of Brigid, a pregnant 16-year-old in 1949. It moves along at a solid pace and as connections may become apparent to readers, it is still a compelling journey to the conclusion. An intricate plotted tale that shines a light on how reproductive rights were handled seventy years ago. What a timely tale to remind us of what happens to women when they lose the right to decide what happens to their bodies.
‘Perspective. That's what had brought Frankie to this place. ‘The island feels tiny. And we're nothing but dots on it. Like sugar sprinkles on a cupcake.' Izzy's voice returned Frankie to the present. 'It's not a bad thing to feel like that,' she replied with a smile. 'Sometimes it helps you work out what's important, and what can be let go of.'
This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.