Cardamine by Jennifer Barraclough
There is a lot to like about this local novel that follows the story of Kate in New Zealand after missing her flight home to England and being invited by an eccentric elderly man to stay at Cardamine, his country home, as a companion.
Vivian Quincy Anderson is wealthy and living by himself after his wife has gone back to her home country. He is courteous, proper and slightly autistic, so he is used to set routines that mustn’t be deviated. A friend, Elly, visits to look after the garden and to have morning tea with him, but she takes an instant dislike to Kate, and things come to loggerheads when Vivian decides to resurrect the idea of a pool where Elly has been creating a garden.
But apart from conflict with Elly, Kate enjoys her companion role. Her duties are light, she is paid well and has free board, and she has plenty of time to go swimming and look at the local Auckland attractions and has time to develop a relationship with the handsome but shy Silvio. She doesn’t know if she wants to return to England and see her estranged boyfriend. It all seems too hard.
But as the weeks pass, Kate comes to suspect that there is a more sinister explanation for Vivian’s wife’s absence, and she begins to take notice of things that are concerning….
While the ending doesn’t end up being a surprise, the characterisation is very well done, and it’s lovely to see a book set locally. A lovely, light read perfect for summer.
Reviewer: Karen McMillan