‘The sins of the past rarely stay buried’
– The House In The Woods
[ About the Book ]
When actress Evie Lawrence is injured in a shocking hit-and-run accident, she wants nothing more than to retreat to her woodland home in Wicklow to recover. But when she’s forced to admit that she needs help, she reluctantly opens up her solitary life to allow her grand-niece Amber, practically a stranger, to move into Heronbrook to take care of her.
Evie, who has been estranged from her sister’s family for many years, vows to keep Amber at a distance so her secrets – and the truth of what happened at Heronbrook years ago – stay buried.
Amber is initially preoccupied with the recent implosion of both her career and her love life, the details of which she’s keeping to herself, but soon becomes very curious about the rift in her family. And when unsettling incidents begin to make Evie’s secluded home feel less peaceful and more dangerously isolated, Amber starts to suspect that what happened to Evie wasn’t an accident at all – and the person responsible still has Evie in their sights. But can Amber persuade Evie to confront the past and get to the truth before it’s too late?
[ My Review ]
The House In The Woods by Zoë Miller will be published October 14th with Hachette Ireland and is described as ‘a gripping edge-of-your-seat novel’. Very much a family drama, this is a story of bitter recrimination, revenge and guilt passed down through generations when in the 1960s a shocking incident results in repercussions that are felt for many years to come.
Evie Lawrence, now in her seventies, always had dreams of being an actor, an ambition she successfully fulfilled. Leaving Ireland as a young woman, she tread the boards on the London stage but a cloud always lingered over her. Her stage and TV persona were what the public saw, with Evie giving the world what it expected. In the early years she partied hard, burning the candles at both ends as she tried to forget her past but it would never let her be. Now she has retired to Co. Wicklow after buying and renovating Heronbrook, the cottage that used to be the summer holiday home for Evie, her sister Pippa and her parents. Evie has enjoyed a solitary existence at Heronbrook. She has kept her distance from her relatives and, as the years have passed, she is keenly aware of all the events that she has been absent from.
On one recent occasion Evie briefly met her niece Jessica, Pippa’s daughter but that has been the extent of her interaction with a family member for many years. When Evie has a very unexpected and serious accident she is forced to contact Jessica for assistance. Jessica is a gentle soul. Married with her own grown up children, Jessica has her own stresses, but with her daughter Amber unexpectedly at a loose end, she has an idea. Jessica suggests that Amber move in with Evie and be her on-site carer for a few weeks until Evie is back on her feet again. Amber is initially reticent but on seeing how incapacitated Evie is she considers her mother’s suggestion and agrees that the time-out would provide her with the much needed escape. Amber has suffered her own very personal catastrophe and needs to process her next move in both her professional life and her love life.
Amber and Evie settle in to a routine, both guarding their secrets close to their chests, while keeping each other company. The days pass at a gentle pace and Evie slowly makes progress in her recovery yet Amber feels an unease. There have been a few situations that have caused her concern. Evie is hiding something and Amber makes a decision to dig a little deeper but is very unprepared for what lies buried beneath.
The House In The Woods jumps between the past and the present as Evie’s backstory is slowly revealed. Littered with stunning descriptions of the Wicklow countryside, Zoë Miller very much brings the locations to life for the reader. I was expecting a bit more of a thriller, with perhaps a slightly gothic element, but instead I found The House In The Woods to be a book about family dynamics and the dysfunctional nature of said relationships. This is very much a story about past mistakes, misinterpretations, jealousy, rivalry and lost love. Full of heartbreak and regrets The House In The Woods is a character-driven tale that will appeal to all who like to be a little shaken when turning the pages of a novel. It is a slow-burner that gently creeps up on you as you hope for the best for the wonderful Evie Lawrence.
[ Bio ]
Zoe Miller is married with three children. She lives in Dublin. Her novels include The Visitor, A Husband’s Confession, The Compromise and A House Full of Secrets.
Twitter – @ZoeMillerAuthor