The Testament of Vida Tremayne
Vida has become trapped in her own mind, while Dory is trapped in the suburbia of her job. When Dory comes to clear out her mother’s house, in preparation of Vida never recovering, she finds a house-guest who witnessed Vida’s demise – but the truth is to be found in a series of journals.
The novel starts out with Dory’s perspective, and you feel yourself thrust into her busy mindset. Dory is a woman who knows her own mind, and is determined to succeed in all of the ways her mother failed. The other chapters are excerpts from Vida’s journals, exposing both Dory’s childhood and Vida’s decline.
Honestly, it took me a while to write this review. This was a novel I needed to think deeply about and prod myself to dig into it. Initially I struggled to get into this novel. The prose put me a little bit off balance, and then, about 20 pages in, I suddenly got hooked. By about half-way through the novel, I couldn’t put it down, and spent time thinking about it while I wasn’t touching that gorgeous cover.
Vida. Dory. Vida. Dory. Rhiannon. They were all brilliantly characterised and had very separate voices. I never felt confused as to who was speaking. I was unfamiliar with the countryside, and the external world-building was good, but oh my, the characters were just so good.
I wanted to talk about this book having finished reading it, almost to anyone who would listen. I doubted my own reading of it. I wondered if I had missed something. Somewhere, the lines of fiction and fantasy get blurred, and I couldn’t tell where that point happened. Arg! How could that happen! The action drove me to keep reading, and perhaps I missed some of the nuances. Or maybe, just maybe, the author tricked me into thinking I should know more, but leaving me wanting more instead. Either way, really compulsive reading.
The ending was haunting. Especially as it wasn’t clear what was actually wrong with ‘the monster’ or what had happened to ‘the animal’.
It’s a definite re-read for me. And I have a family member in mind who would absolutely LOVE to get her hands on this kind of novel, so I might offer it to her for a read.
What a great review! And I absolutely agree: the characters were SO good. Rhiannon was deliciously wicked, and Dory just the right kind of young career woman. Not to mention Vida, the struggling novelist.
Thanks so much for putting me in contact with Sarah! Glad I got the chance to read it.