Lily’s House by Cassandra Parkin
Published by Legend in October 2016
My copy: Netgalley
When Jen goes to her grandmother s house for the last time, she’s determined not to dwell on the past. As a child, Jen adored Lily and suspected she might be a witch; but the spell was broken long ago, and now her death means there won’t be any reconciliation. Lily’s gone, but the enchantments she wove and the secrets she kept still remain. In Lily’s house, Jen and her daughter Marianne reluctantly confront the secrets of the past and present – and discover how dangerous we become when we’re trying to protect the ones we love.
I have read both Parkin’s other novels this year, so was really pleased to be able to download this from NetGalley. The story here is quite simple – Jen and her 12-year-old daughter Marianne travel to the seaside to Jen’s grandmother’s house. Jen and Lily were extremely close when Jen was a child, and Jen visited every summer – but they ended up not speaking for years and Marianne never even met her great-grandmother. Now Lily is dead, but she has left everything to Jen in her will, so the pair have come to clear up the house and sell it, so they can go back home to Marianne’s dad Daniel and they can build their dream home.
I have to admit I had some issues with this novel from the very start. I found Marianne really unconvincing, and at times she speaks like a 6-year-old and others like a 60-year-old – but never like a 12-year-old! Also her dad Daniel is one of the most unbearable characters I have ever encountered in a novel. He and Jen communicate via text, and these exchanges litter the novel. Not only are they repetitive, but Daniel is the most irritating, needy, pathetic man and the fact that Jen was still with him made me dislike her too! Although the reasons for this become a bit clearer towards the end of the novel, it doesn’t stop these endless text exchanges from becoming quite tedious. And then there is the grumpy neighbour downstairs. For some reason. He talks in clipped sentences. Like this. Throughout the whole book. Not sure why. Quite annoying. Didn’t see the point.
There were however some things I liked about the novel. I enjoyed reading about Jen and Marianne exploring Lily’s flat and the local area. I also liked the way they gradually became more attached to the area and you can sense that Jen isn’t at all sure what she wants to do with her life any more. The book might have worked better if it focused more on this, but instead there are some random mysteries about paternity thrown in, and also far too much about cats for my liking! And this isn’t even mentioning the weird witchy stuff that’s in the background throughout the book but comes to a bit of a climax at the end.
There is a lot going on here and in some ways I think this affected the storyline as it didn’t seem to have a clear focus. There were a lot of elements that became almost superfluous. Such as the neighbour. Who talked like this. And you could easily have taken out well over half of the text conversations between Jen and Daniel as these were just the same thing over and over again. There were some parts of the book I enjoyed, but overall it wasn’t for me.