Reading The Glass House, by Eve Chase, was like starting and completing a jigsaw. First, you find your corners and complete the edges – the rest is a complete jumble for hours until you start systematically going through the puzzle by colour and shape, before proudly placing in the final missing piece.
I won’t lie, it was the cover of The Glass House that drew me to it. I love a fern plant and a terrarium, and it was super tactile, with little raised leaves and that slight rubbery feeling. I don’t think I’ll ever be much for e-books, it’s just not the same. The blurb indicating a mystery novel, and the fact it was a Richard and Judy book club pick, confirmed my decision to part with my Nectar points.
Author Eve Chase reminds me somewhat of myself. She only ever wanted to be a writer, worked as a journalist ‘interviewing colourful characters and nosing around grand private homes’. I cover a lot of property content in my journalism career, and there’s nothing better than snooping around the interiors – especially in period homes. If those walls could talk… Eve understands the secrets lurking in the walls of these domestic worlds, and leaks them into the pages of her novels.
Her suspenseful storyline in The Glass House has made it a Sunday Times Bestseller, exploring dysfunctional families, mental health, and discovering your ancestry. It’s interesting how the pandemic has seen more and more people searching about their family history online, actually, with a particular spike in May.
The blurb of The Glass House reads: “The truth can shatter everything . . .
“When the Harrington family discovers an abandoned baby deep in the woods, they decide to keep her a secret and raise her as their own.
“But within days a body is found in the grounds of their house and their perfect new family implodes.
“Years later, Sylvie, seeking answers to nagging questions about her life, is drawn into the wild beautiful woods where nothing is quite what it seems.
“Will she unearth the truth? And dare she reveal it?”
The story is told through the eyes of three of the characters. Rita, Hera and Sylvie.
Rita is the young nanny to little Hera, and her brother, Teddy, in the 70s. When the wealthy family’s London home is devastated by a fire, they relocate to The Forest of Dean to a country home. Rita and Hera’s accounts told throughout the short, snappy chapters are both set in that time period, living through the mystery that Sylvie finds herself unraveling years later, whilst Rita, her mother, is in a coma.
There’s much to unpick in The Glass House, and much like the jigsaw analogy, there are some parts of the story that look as though they won’t fit, until you spot a finer detail and realise it is the right piece.
The story starts to unravel slowly, and picks up pace much more quickly in the second half, featuring a murder, an abandoned baby, child loss, affairs, teen pregnancies and a whole forest of family trees. The timeline flits between the early 1970s and the present, where Sylvie finds herself desperate to discover her roots when her mum ends up in hospital.
It’s dark and twisting in places, like the forest that Eve so beautifully depicts with imagery, with some shocking revelations I definitely didn’t see coming. It explores grief, the lengths people will go to for the ones they love, and the importance of self-identity and heritage, whilst reminding us just how small the world can be.