Wednesday, 26 November 2014

The Testament of Vida Tremayne by Sarah Vincent - menacing




From the blurb....

A lonely novelist, A devoted fan, A journal that speaks of unspeakable things… Author Vida Tremayne lies silent in a hospital bed. The forces which brought about her terrifying decline are shrouded in mystery. 


Meanwhile, her estranged daughter Dory is forced to abandon her fast paced city life to be by her mother’s bedside. Dory is resentful. She hates the country and she and her mother were never exactly close. 

Luckily Vida already has a carer, the enigmatic Rhiannon Townsend. A long-standing fan of Vida’s, Rhiannon is happy to take care of the bedside vigil. Dory is free to resume her life. Or is she? 

Then she discovers her mother’s journal. Vida’s chilling testament reveals the trigger for her spiralling into madness. It also reveals the danger that still lurks close by. A danger that will call on Dory’s every reserve of courage if she’s to free her mother, and maybe in doing so, to free herself.

My review: 

I love discovering new authors - I especially love coming across a debut author whose work is so compelling you don't even realise how sucked into the story you've become until you look up and find you've been lost in the book for hours, this is one such book.

In “The testament of Vida Tremayne”, the author has obviously drawn on her own experiences in the world of writing to create this darkly menacing story. It’s deceptive gentle pace belies the sinister under tones and menacing, macabre darkness that seeps into the story like fog.

In this book we are introduced to 3 women, all very different and none of them very likeable, if I’m honest. But you don’t have to like the characters in a book to find what happens to them compelling.

Firstly there is the eponymous Vida Tremayne, a middle aged author who has lost her creativity, it deserted her at about the same time as her husband absconded with a younger woman, and Vida feeling lonely and isolated in her quaint old tumbledown cottage, begins to realise the extent she shut out her own daughter, whilst in her writing heyday.

We are also introduced to her daughter, the impatient, chain smoking, Dory, or Dorothea, living in the city, with a busy career as an estate agent, a string of failed relationships and a desire not to be drawn back into her slightly eccentric Mothers life.

But Vida becomes ill, nobody knows quite what is wrong with her, Dory is summoned to her aid and upon returning to Vidas home, The Gingerbread house, she is surprised and somewhat relieved to find Vida has a friend staying there, the rather hippy, dippy Rhiannon, who seems prepared to take some of the pressure off Dory’s shoulders whilst Vida lies in hospital. Catatonic and unresponsive, has Vida had a nervous breakdown? Is there any hope for her recovery? Can Rhiannon help or has she an ulterior motive?

The story is told in part by Dory and the remainder in the form of Vidas diary notes, which begin to go some way to throwing a little light on what has happened, who the Rhiannon is and where she came from and it becomes obvious sinister forces are at play, with an enigmatic large cat like creature we keep catching glimpses of.

I have read comparisons made, to Stephen Kings Misery and I would also say there is an element of The Thirteenth tale by Diane Setterfield, (although very loosely), the main characters share the same first name Vida, and are authors. I think this will appeal to people who enjoyed the aforementioned book.

This creepy and menacing psychological chiller, looks at difficult family relationships, loneliness, stress and mental health frailties. The settings are painted beautifully, especially the Long Mynd in Shropshire and the Gingerbread house which plays a large part and almost has its own personality. An intensely disturbing yet very engrossing tale and I look forward eagerly to any future work by Sarah Vincent.

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