The story for the first half of the book is slow - Harriet being part and parcel of the Gillespie family. Almost family one would think. The ups and downs of this family both emotional and financial - the elder girls virulent manner despite being a little girl, the parents inability to see that something is radically wrong, the mother in law not just interfering but wanting to dominate the family are all part of the story which is rather tame. Interesting but ordinary everyday stuff.
Midway tragedy strikes and the way the book turns is dramatic. Totally unexpected I personally could not have figured it out at all. Why and how it did is the second part of the book and this is what keeps the reader enthralled. How Harriet copes with the changed circumstances of her life and what she must do to save herself (though she actually does very little) and fortunately lawyers seem to do the major part of saving her life is the next part of the story. Dramatic and frightening for Harriet who was all alone now with absolutely no one to turn to not family nor friends.
The book is one of sensation (particularly the second half) with a slight Victorian flavour to it which added to my interest.