The Lost Girls
From the bestselling author of The Mistake comes a hauntingly powerful story about families and secrets and the dark shadows cast by the past.
Curl Curl, Sydney, January 1978.
Angie’s a looker. Or she’s going to be. She’s only fourteen, but already, heads turn wherever she goes. Male heads, mainly . . .
Jane worships her older cousin Angie. She spends her summer vying for Angie’s attention. Then Angie is murdered. Jane and her family are shattered. They withdraw into themselves, casting a veil of silence over Angie’s death.
Thirty years later, a journalist arrives with questions about the tragic event. Jane is relieved to finally talk about her adored cousin. And so is her family. But whose version of Angie’s story – whose version of Angie herself – is the real one? And can past wrongs ever be made right?
The shocking truth of Angie’s last days will force Jane to question everything she once believed. Because nothing – not the past or even the present – is as she once imagined.
What an incredible talent this author has that she can take you back thirty odd years, to a time of innocence, to a time of discovery, a time of burgeoning sexual awakening that is the adolescent in the ‘70s. With a stroke of a pen we are in that small country town, it is school holidays, we are watching TV; Sounds Unlimited, The Road Runner, Elvis re runs… going to the corner shop for mum and dad, happy to spend the change on lollies, listening to the radio, buying records of our favourite artists with Christmas money/pocket money, following our best friend and older cousin around, happy to be on the periphery of her golden aura.
But Angie is not content with hanging round with her younger cousin. She wants more; more admiration, more excitement, more experiences. Life suddenly changes when Angie goes missing. Her death haunts her family for the next thirty odd years. Innocence is buried with Angie at the cemetery. Life is never the same.
This is a complex narrative that straddles the two time frames with ease – the settings and the stories of the past, 1978, the year Angie died and the present 2010 when the family are forced to relive, remember and recount the days surrounding the disappearance and the discovery of Angie’s dead body a few days later. This is a story about memories, about families, about relationships, about how death and separation affects us and about the burden of secrets and lies that emotionally cripple a family until the truth is revealed. And a huge reveal it is.
James teases out the story using interviews, transcripts, multiple perspectives and recollections/memories – great devices to reveal the bigger picture. Wendy James creates characters that are warm, that are flawed, that are passionate, that are real; I can recognise people I know in her characters. James asks the question – how far would you go to protect the ones you love?
Brilliant settings, engaging characters, a murder and a thirty year old mystery and wonderful storytelling this book has it all.