by Rose Tremain

Arlene Almas: As this captivating story unfolds, Aramon and his sister Audrun live in the south of France, on a large tract of land which has been in their family for generations. Aramon lives in the old stone farmhouse and Audrun in a small bungalow on her small portion of the land, which is all that was left to her in their father's will. Aramon's health and his home and property are deteriorating; nevertheless he has put the house on the market and many foreigners, particularly British, continue to visit with an interest in buying. Not too far from Aramon and Audrun, Veronica and Kitty, two British women in a long-term relationship, live contentedly in their own stone house. Their life together is disrupted when Veronica's brother Anthony comes from England to stay with them, and unexpectedly develops thoughts of buying his own place in the area. The author seamlessly integrates the past histories of all these characters into the story, with some surprises along the way. Eventually the two strands of the narrative merge, and the ending gives us the biggest surprises of all.
Rating: *****

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