Well what a pot boiler and I do not mean this disparagingly This book starts slowly and I have to confess that I found it at first hard to get into. Indeed I put it to one side and read another book and then came back to it. I am so glad that I did, by half way though I was hooked and unable to put it down - the pot that had been simmering came to the boil.
The fact is that like real life, I was unsure as to whether I liked any of the characters, but as I read I came to know them better and they separated into those I think I liked , those I think I didn't and those I was unsure about even at the end.
This is a book about lies and mysteries. It is set in Bath and Bathampton spanning the years from 1803 - 1822. However, drop any illusions about Regency Bath a la Jane Austen. This is the underbelly, the dark places where rot breeds, where the gentile and impoverished sink into the mud of poverty and corruption. Here we follow the fortunes of Rachel who escapes her life as a governess to marry an up and coming wine merchant. Through him she comes to know the Alleyn's and is quickly drawn into their dark secrets when she is employed as a companion for the son, invalided in the Peninsular war. We come to know Starling the foundling, whose determination and anger precipitate the events that unfold.
It is a long book at 570 pages for book groups but there is so much in it to discuss, it is worth the initial groans when they see the size of it. It will be read quickly I can assure you.