I have read about a dozen of this lady's works, and this is one of the more chilling tales I have experienced. Everything about the characters is artificial bordering on unnatural. I found the cadence of the book slow, almost plodding, however taken as a complete tale the very opposite is the case.
A young girl Rita described as, "wrapped in tissue paper all her life", lives with two Aunts, with frequent visits from her, "Uncle". Those that have raised her live lives so bereft of anything worth mentioning, that their nurturing of this child into a young woman cannot produce a practically educated woman, much less a confident individual who is worldly wise. When Rita decides to step out with her peers to engage with young men, the participation from the mentioned relatives ranges from too little too late, to reprehensibly cruel.
The Uncle who is a butcher cannot abide blood when an assistant cuts himself. One Aunt has created a museum of her Mother's furniture and knickknacks inclusive of a severe portrait of the deceased that overlooks this memorial. While this could be called eccentric, the author elevates the obsession exponentially.
Nothing is positive in this view of World War II England. Even the American Soldiers are described as having but 3 faults; they are overpaid, oversexed, and over here. Even the cat that haunts this house has a name that is unprintable here, however the moniker is consistent with commentary on Catholics, Mongrel Americans, and others ad nauseum.
Ms. Bainbridge writes wonderful work that really needs to be read to the final page. She does not tip her hand, the ending is only predictable as the pages left become fewer, and only when she is ready does she deliver her sometimes-dramatic conclusion. In this event it is a bit like a hammer between the eyes.
Once again, "The Dressmaker", is another a unique tale from this wonderfully diverse Author, and is well worth your time.