book coverBy Sophie Draper

** Publication Date 28 November 2019**


Claire and Duncan are married, but it’s not really a marriage anymore. Their son Joe, now 18, is a difficult child, never diagnosed, but possibly somewhere on the spectrum. He is fascinated by ancient Roman coins which leads him to take up metal detection. The family lives in a renovated, contemporary “barn” along a reservoir. It’s a lovely location, however, Claire and Duncan had two different views of what would be the perfect home. Perhaps that’s where their troubles began. 

Duncan is leading what he thinks is a secret second life. Claire suspects and then confirms this second life. She is planning her escape from Duncan when Joe finds a very rare coin on their property, he thinks it’s a brilliant discovery, while Claire disagrees. So many secrets are hidden on the property and in their lives. Can this family be fixed? Once Claire escapes Duncan, will her life improve?

The novel is told in “before” and “after” segments by Claire and Duncan. We are led to believe that the before segments are before Claire leaves Duncan. I was surprised by the low ratings for this book, as I did find it rather compelling. It definitely is slow paced. With the back and forth between before and after, you are slowly building to what is present, and what really happened to this family. 

All three people are broken in their own ways. While others found the characters rather unlikable, I found them to all have redeemable qualities. Duncan is a vet and truly cares for the animals, perhaps not the people, he treats. Claire is dedicated to her son, and like any mother, did her absolute best to raise him. Joe struggles, but only because he may have some underlying, undiagnosed issue that makes him less likely to be social. 

Magpie is well written and Draper has a way with prose. She is able to describe details in a beautiful way. I was not disappointed by this novel at all and would recommend it to people that aren’t in a hurry to get to the finish. You’ll find some beautiful words along the way.

3.5 stars on Goodreads

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