The Sisters Mortland by Sally Beauman
As I mentioned last week, when packing for my trip I decided to only take books that I'd be comfortable wild releasing after I was done with them. I'm not sure I should have read another contemporary gothic novel so close on the heels of The Thirteenth Tale (see post), but The Sisters Mortland, which had been languishing on my bookshelves, was one of the ones I packed.
Summer 1967: As an artist paints a portrait of thirteen-year-old Maisie and her older sisters--arrogant, beautiful Julia and brilliant, bookish Finn--Maisie embarks upon a portrait of her own: a secret account of her troubled family and her village friend Daniel. Before the end of the summer, a terrible accident will befall the family.
Winter 1991: As the now-legendary portrait of the Mortland sisters is featured in a London retrospective, Daniel seeks to free himself of his obsession with the mysterious sisters by unraveling the secrets of that fateful summer...
The novel has three sensitive narrators, Maisie, Dan, and Julia. Their accounts are biased and occasionally jumbled and it is only in having them all combined that the truth is revealed. The story of the sisters and that fateful summer is compelling and Beauman draws it out masterfully, offering small clues and teasing hints, only revealing the full extent of the mystery at the novel's end. The tale, however, is haunting.