Driven by atmosphere and character, this novel by Ruth Rendell writing as Barbara Vine, centers around two stories of infidelity and deception.
Genevieve, 32, a working-class caretaker at a private nursing home, confides her affair to her favorite patient, Stella, who is middle-class, educated, affluent and dying. Stella responds with the keys to a house none of her family knows she owns, a house no one has visited in 30 years. She asks Genevieve to report its condition.
Shocked that something so valuable could be simply abandoned -for whatever reason - Genevieve appropriates it as a trysting place, her curiosity only slightly piqued by the abandoned, burned car in the garage, the photographs hidden away, the food and champagne left in the refrigerator.
And so begins a story in tandem as Genevieve's stolen meetings alternate with Stella's story of her own doomed love. Character precipitates the events of the plot, and as we increasingly sympathize with Stella's shy dignity and Genevieve's fretful ardor, foreboding envelops the narrative like a London fog. Not to be missed.