One of those sad stories which are rather mournful. Starting with a funeral.
Thaddeus (even his name sounds old) is much older than his rather young wife Letitia who is killed in a random accident. Thaddeus is fond of his wife rather than in love with her and though her death has left him much richer than he ever was, he sort of misses her and is devoted to the baby. Unable to cope with such a young baby, he decides to hire a nanny and an advertisement for the post is put in the press and four applicants turn up.
No one is found suitable and the last is particularly inept. Badly attired, with an obviously forged reference she is turned down but the matter does not end there. Pettie with her complicated background is besotted with Thaddeus, the house and what might have been and the obsessions of Pettie and her wild imaginations as to what could be are surreal, tense and frightening.
The novel is mainly about human relationships and how the circumstances of our birth and upbringing could influence us and do, unless one is willing and strong enough to change not just our personalities and inherent characters (the bad bits I mean!) but is also willing to see that bad bits exist in us all and which with time we must try to get rid of. Everyone of course cannot and will not do this or even attempt to do so, or even acknowledge that bad bits exist! The book typifies this.