The title of this book marks the point in August 1990 that Anna Taverner’s life changes forever. Her adored elder sister Rose who has just finished her A-Levels is last seen sipping a drink and sunbathing in the back garden. She then disappears from the lives of her family without a trace. No body is ever found, no letter from her ever received.
Rose was the cool one, attractive and self-assured with boyfriends devoted to her. Anna feels inadequate compared to her sister and as Anna grows into adulthood Rose’s absence haunts her, making her feel she hasn’t quite measured up in her relationships or her career.
‘ Is that it ?Rose whispered.Your man , your relationship? Is that good enough?Are you settling for that?
Standing, Anna slid into her shoes. ‘Shut up Rose’ she said aloud.’Leave me alone.’
Anna and her mother never believe that Rose is dead. They are both convinced that one day she will walk back into their lives.
If Rose came back everything would be different. For Anna, for their mother. Life would pick up;not where it had left off, she couldn’t expect that, but on a steadier more purposeful course. Anna told herself this, yet the Rose of her imagination was fixed forever at eighteen. Anna had drawn level , then overtaken, and Rose was stranded at the age of young girls she saw on the street and on the Underground.
As the book begins Anna is an adult but paralysed by the past she decides that she must find out what happened to her sister.
Anna’s story is told through flashbacks and is interwoven with that of her mother , Sandra, who lost her own brother at a similar age. Sandra’s tale serves to remind us that the 1960s were not a swinging time for everyone and that plenty of ‘Victorian values’ still held sway.
This book is about families, secrets and how the past can haunt us. Linda Newbery is a prize winning author of Young Adult fiction, this is her first adult book and she captures perfectly the teenaged bewilderment of Anna and Sandra as they struggle to make sense of their emotions and relationships.
This book is certainly a page turner and the ending was a complete surprise if a little contrived. An ideal ‘holiday read’.
A QuarterPast Two On A Wednesday Afternoon will be published on 14th August 2014 nd my thanks to Transworld Books for the review copy.