Andrea Gillies’s second novel explores themes of family relationships, self-deception, and the need for personal mythologies and secrets, set against the vivid colours of a Greek island as summer moves into autumn. Nina, the 45-year-old narrator, suffers a violent accident in the opening pages: ‘Puzzled goat faces peered down as blackness eliminated the sky.’ So far, so good. But then things decline. The accident is explained in one short sentence, dropped casually into the first of a series of uncountable flashbacks (‘she was profoundly unwell by then’); the reader will not learn the nature of her malaise for a long time. A pattern of withheld information begins here.
Her injuries confine her to the island’s cottage hospital, where she is attended by Dr Christos, whose English is perfect. While he writes up his case records at her bedside, Nina regales him with accounts of important moments in her life, embellished or understated according to mood. She lives normally