Maureen Lindley's new novel, The Beloveds. Those overgrown vines covering the door hint at a tangled tale within.
And it is. Sisters Betty and Gloria have never really got along. Everything seems to come easy to the sunny-natured Gloria, but not so for Betty. Betty is not one of the "Beloveds". In her own words..."I am not one of the Beloveds. You know those people with a star above their heads: loved and admired, lucky in love, lucky in everything."
Betty yearns for the day when Pipits, the family home will be hers by birthright as the oldest child. The house speaks to Betty and she loves it and the gardens surrounding it. But when the girls' mother dies, she leaves the estate to Gloria - and that does not sit well with Betty. Not at all.
What follows is a dark and twisted tale of Betty's attempts to regain what she sees as her birthright. Initially I could understand Betty's anger and resentment. But Lindley takes Betty further down the path of animosity and obsession than I could have imagined. Her schemes to take back Pipits grow darker and more dangerous. As does Betty's mindset. The reader is along for the ride as she descends into what can only be termed madness. And yet.....I still felt sorry for her.
"It's true that I have learned how to appear calm when I am angry. But that doesn't mean I don't feel things. To have my way, I practice charm, keep my true nature hidden. People find it hard to deal with a person who doesn't emote in the way they expect. The want you to empathize with their trivial problems. They shy away from superior intellects, so I find it easier to act the part of loving sister, forgiving sister-in-law, accepting friend. I'm a good actress."
The Beloveds is told through Betty's point of view, with Gloria's actions and dialogue as seen by her. I wondered about Gloria - is she really the 'Beloved' she appears to be? Or is she aware of what losing the house has done to Betty?
I quite enjoyed the descriptions of Pipits and the grounds. The house is also a character in the book, not just a setting.
Deliciously dark and disturbing. The publisher has described The Beloveds as "An exploration of domestic derangement, as sinister as Daphne Du Maurier’s classic Rebecca, that plumbs the depths of sibling rivalry with wit and menace." Quite apt I would say. Read an excerpt of The Beloveds.