When Eva Patterson returns home from work one day, a devastating scene awaits her. Her mother, Flora, lies dead in the bath. Beside her is a note saying only: ‘Forgive Me’.
Until then, Eva always believed her family’s life would be comfortable and secure – but Flora’s suicide changes everything. And when Eva discovers that in her will Flora left her an artist’s studio in London, she realises how little she knows about her mother’s past.
When Eva visits the now derelict studio, she is shocked to find out that her mother was once a successful artist back in the 1960s. A chance encounter leads her to Phil, who agrees to help her restore the studio, as well as offering her the advice and friendship Eva so badly needs.
In the studio attic she finds a collection of Flora’s paintings and old diaries, which Eva believes were purposely left for her to find. Searching for answers, Eva encounters a psychic who mysteriously warns her to beware of a ‘sleeping serpent’, which she soon discovers refers to a shocking crime in Flora’s past.
Will discovering the truth destroy Eva’s belief in everything she holds dear? And will Phil stand by Eva even when her journey leads her and those she loves into certain danger?
In the prologue we see Flora Patterson planning and executing her suicide, hoping and expecting that she will be found by her controlling husband, Andrew.
This is not the case, as her eldest daughter Eva is the first home, after finishing work early that day. Eva is met by the traumatic sight of her mother laying dead in a blood-filled bath.
Twenty-year-old Eva had always felt the black sheep of the family, never quite fitting in with her younger, more beautiful brother and sister. After coping with the trauma of finding her mother’s body, she has to take over her position in the house, cooking, cleaning and dealing with the dramatic outbursts of her younger sister, Sophie. She is never thanked or accepted for undertaking this massive task, and to make matters worse she is told some very shocking and upsetting news by her father, Andrew.
After the seeds of many secrets are hinted at her mother’s funeral, she feels that it’s time to leave home and try to explore these, as none seem to be the Flora that she had known for 20 years.
Eva had inherited Flora’s studio in London as she turned 21, and felt the secrets would lay there. When she arrives, it has been left by tenants and squatters as no more than a hovel, and it takes many ‘man hours’ and most of her monetary inheritance to make it inhabitable. Her knight in shining armour, Phil, seems ready to assist in her plight, finding lots of ‘workman’ friends to come along and help her to complete her task.
She had not realised what an influential and successful painter her mother had been, but hidden away in the attic of the Holland Park studio Eva finds examples of her work, and several diaries all relating to Eva’s infanthood and the time before she was born.
As she delves deeper into the diaries she slowly begins to piece together the puzzle, but there are still parts missing, and Eva feels that she needs to go to Scotland, where Flora once lived. She meets some interesting characters while there, and an acquaintance from her mother’s past – a psychic by the name of Deena Deeds. Deena tries to warn her off Flora’s trail, telling her there is no good to come of it, and warning her of a ‘sleeping serpent’ – a secret that has to power to destroy many lives if she does not leave it well alone. She also warns her of grave danger, all of which Eva is desperate to ignore, assuming and hoping that Deena is a fraud.
Eva travels home from Scotland with far more knowledge than she bargained for, and a whole new mystery threatening to take over her whole life.
I really enjoyed Forgive Me, it was fast paced and a real page turner. For me, it was not at all a predictable read and I loved watching Eva rebuild her life, even though there was an unbelievable amount of tragedy and obstacles along the way. There was a strong theme of perseverance and triumphing through what seemed like an endless cycle of adversity throughout the whole book.
I loved the characters, especially Gregor and Patrick, it was lovely to watch Eva finding people who seemed to truly care for her. I had a special soft spot for Phil, who reminded me so much of my husband!
My only criticism would be that sometimes Eva’s dialogue seemed very old fashioned, and even though it was set in the 1990s I found it wasn’t quite how a young person would speak – but that in no way detracted from my enjoyment of the book.
I found it a brilliant storyline; this is the first novel by Lesley Pearse I have read, and it will definitely encourage me to read more of her past work!
Many thanks to Sophie at ed public relations for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.