Nicci Gerrard writes for The Observer and is the co-author, with Sean French, of the bestselling Nicci French thrillers. She lives in Suffolk with her husband and four children.
Secrets and memories collide in The Twilight Hour, the new novel from bestselling author Nicci Gerrard.
'Be with me now, at the twilight hour. When the light fails.'
'What shall I tell you?'
'Tell me about us, when we were young. What was it like? What was I like then?'
Eleanor Lee has lived a fiercely independent existence for over ninety years, but now it's time to tidy her life away - books, photographs, paintings, letters - a lifetime of possessions all neatly boxed up for the last time. But amongst them there are some things that must be kept hidden. And, nearing blindness, Eleanor needs help to uncover them before her children and grandchildren do.
Peter, a young man with a broken heart who feels as lost as Eleanor's past, is employed to help with this task. And together they uncover traces of another life - words and photographs telling a story of forbidden love, betrayal, passion, grief and self-sacrifice, which Eleanor must visit one last time.
By speaking her memories out loud, and releasing the secrets of her past, Eleanor can finally lay them to rest. To honour them at last, and protect those who must never know.
Praise for Nicci Gerrard:
'Beguiling, poignant, wonderful' Sunday Express
'Acutely observed and beautifully written' Woman and Home
'Subtle, poignant and tremendously skilful' Observer
When Marnie receives a phone call that summons her to the side of a once-beloved friend, she is wrenched from her orderly London life and sent back into a past from which she has fled but never escaped.
Ralph, Marnie and Oliver once knew each other well and are still inextricably bound by ties of love and betrayal. Now they meet again in Ralph's secluded cottage in the Scottish highlands, to spend the precious days that Ralph has left with each other.
As they reminisce, Marnie is taken back to the summer years ago when everything changed between them and heartbreak and desire broke up their little group. Will Ralph have the chance to say what needs to be said before it's too late? And can they put the devastating events of twenty years ago to rest and rekindle the intimacy they once shared?
When Marnie receives a phone call that summons her to the side of a once-beloved friend, she is wrenched from her orderly London life and sent back into a past from which she has fled but never escaped. Ralph, Marnie and Oliver once knew each other well and are still inextricably bound by ties of love and betrayal. Now they meet again in Ralph’s secluded cottage in the Scottish highlands, to spend the precious days that Ralph has left with each other. As they reminisce, Marnie is taken back to the summer years ago when everything changed between them and heartbreak and desire broke up their little group. Will Ralph have the chance to say what needs to be said before it’s too late? And can they put the devastating events of twenty years ago to rest and rekindle the intimacy they once shared?
Gaby and Connor seem to have a loving marriage, one that is built on knowing every last intricate detail about one another, or so Gaby has always believed. When their son Ethan sets off for university, discovering for the first time, the raw and uncontrollable intensity of falling in love, Gaby and Connor will be alone again; a chance to rediscover their relationship, just the two of them. But there is one person missing from Gaby's life. One person who she cannot forgot; Nancy, her best friend since childhood. As teenagers they shared their deepest secrets, fears and dreams for the future. As adults they discovered love; Gaby with Connor and Nancy with Gaby's adored brother, Stefan. The foursome became inseparable. Then one day, Nancy upped and left. Now, almost twenty years later, with Ethan away from home, Gaby finds herself idly watching television when a sharp stab of recognition hits her; the face she recognizes on the screen belongs to Nancy. Suddenly, the friend she thought she'd lost for good is within her reach. But does Nancy want to be found? The search for her long lost friend forces Gaby not only to revisit her past, but could also shatter the course of her future.
Irene has a husband, Adrian, three small children and - though she doesn't know it - a marriage that is going wrong. When she discovers that Adrian is having an affair, the family is blown apart. Solace is a story of contrasts. While Adrian finds new love and excitement, Irene spirals into exhaustion, self-destruction and a kind of madness. With their marriage in shreds and Adrian whisking their daughters on a trip of a lifetime to Australia with his new lover, Irene finally reaches rock bottom. She decides to leave the unbearable silence of her home for a trip by herself to visit her brother Jem in France. And as Irene soon realises, being along can mean discovering freedom, elation and even in the darkest of times, finding your solace.
A poignant of a sensitive schoolgirl, Edie, ill-at-ease with herself, who loses her virginity to a boy from a local council estate and is embarrassed when her father discovers the couple in a compromising state. Later, her father Vic loses his job and endures periods of black depression before committing suicide. Edie finds that she is forced to grow up very quickly, and puts her teenage romance in the past.
One damp evening in August, two little girls went missing. For two weeks, the entire country was transfixed by their disappearance, and a shrine grew in the village where they lived. Then their naked bodies were found in a nettlefilled ditch and the caretaker of the local school was charged with their murder, his girlfriend with conspiracy. Sixteen months later, after a trial filled with unbearable detail, Ian Huntley was found guilty of murder; Maxine Carr of perverting the course of justice. The case was a detective story and a sinister fairy tale rolled into one, a narrative of loss, horror and collective mourning, a myth which seemed to tell us something about the way we live now, and the fears we all hold. Nicci Gerrard, who sat through the entire trial, asks what we can learn from Soham, why we care so much, and whether our intense empathy actually shuts us off from other less dramatic events.