Harriet is orphaned with no relatives and all alone and now desperate. She has got in with a loan shark who is charging her exorbitant interest and has now threatened her with violence if she does not pay up.
A letter from a solicitor asking her to attend the death of a grandmother she did not know about and the possibility of an inheritance is so tempting that she makes the tedious journey with her last bit of money to find out what it is all about. She knows she is not the Harriet Westaway that the lawyer is talking about and on meeting the three sons of the late Mrs. Westaway she is very quickly able to find out what the entire story is about. It seems obvious who she is but it is only at the end that the tables are turned and the actual story is revealed.
The idea of manipulation from beyond the grave is paramount in this. Malice and sheer devilment as it were to cause tension between the three sons when it comes about that Harriet is the main beneficiary. The eeriness of the surroundings, the fallen down dilapidation of the house and the eccentricity of the housekeeper all add to the heightened tensions of the story that builds to not one climax but a couple.
How the past can eventually catch up with you, secrets hidden for decades come out, and a rectification done which could not be done when alive but better late than never is slowly told and in stages. The story is full of suspense because you do know revelations are going to come about but they come from unexpected places and this is what interests the reader the most and keeps their interest going.
Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Random House UK Vintage Publishing.