Rosemary, once a chatterbox and now largely silent, starts her story where her father always told her to, in the middle. While he was hoping it would cut down her ctorrent of chatter, for us as readers it means a tantalizing time before we understand the truth about Fern, Rosemary’s long-lost sister, and reasons for the sudden and permanent departure of Lowell, her brother.

I would urge all potential readers of this fabulous book to avoid the many spoiler reviews out there and come to this fresh if they can, without that key piece of knowledge.  There are good reasons for the delay in telling, and they add powerfully to the impact of the story.

What I can say is that this is an extraordinary family drama, where a childhood experiment turns out to have impacts far beyond what any of the participants could have expected. Rosemary makes a gripping narrator; she’s observant, smart and honest about her failings and the story she has to tell is a doozie.

It’s one of the most enthralling books I have read in ages – thought-provoking and touching and impossible to put down. Fowler is the author of the popular bestseller The Jane Austen Book Club.

Verdict: wow **** 1/2

Published March 2014