A lushly imagined novel that asks, “When do we ever really know ourselves?”
When Rebecca Laurelson is forced to leave her post as a trauma surgeon in an east African field hospital, she arrives at her aunt’s house on the Indian Ocean and is taken into the heart of a family she has never met before. It’s a world of all-night beach parties and constant cocktail receptions, and within its languorous embrace her attraction for her much younger cousin grows.
But the gilded lives of her aunt Julia’s family and their fellow white Africans on the coast are under threat — Islamist terror attacks are on the rise and Rebecca knows more about this violence than she is prepared to reveal. Will she be able to save her newfound family from the violence that encroaches on their seductive lives? Or, amidst growing unrest, will the true reason for her hasty exit from her posting be unmasked? Rebecca finds herself torn between the family she hardly knows and a past she dares not divulge.
About the author
Jean McNeil, a native of Nova Scotia, has lived in London since 1991. She spent the austral summer of 2005-2006 in Antarctica as the British Antarctic Survey/Arts Council of England International Fellow to Antarctica, and has since been writer-in-residence in the Falkland Islands, Svalbard and on a scientific expedition to Greenland.
“Jean McNeil's latest is a completely absorbing, eminently readable — to the point of being almost unputdownable — complex, cleverly crafted work, principally about loyalty: what we owe to our country, our relatives, those we love and those who simply cross our path. You won't read many better novels this year.” — Daily Mail
“Like the landscape she depicts, McNeil's prose combines poetic grace with shadows of menace: behind every flowering bush or luxurious shrub there may be an exotic bird or a poisonous snake — or an armed marauder. The effect is both gripping and unsettling.” — Quill & Quire
“With dreamlike prose and an intriguing protagonist, fiction- and travel-writer McNeil (Ice Diaries, 2016) builds momentum to her novel's surprising final chapters . . . McNeil's storytelling will pull [readers] in and captivate them to the end.” — Booklist
“Jean McNeil is one of those authors that can bring clarity to the human experience in a single, illuminating sentence.” — I am Writer Hear Me Roar blog
“Compulsively readable . . An accomplished travel writer who has been drawn to outposts as remote as Antarctica, McNeil writes descriptions that shimmer. . . We learn the cause of Rebecca's trauma in a scene so brutal and eloquent I reread it several times, astonished and awed.” — New York Times Book Review