Broken Flowers by Kate McQuaile reviewed

Broken Flowers Book Cover Broken Flowers
Kate McQuaile
Quercus Books
April 16, 2020

Your mother. The one person you trust. What if you're wrong?

Widowed Nan is on her way to her beloved son's wedding. She should be excited, but she is dreading her return to Paradise Place - a small area of Notting Hill that she hasn't dared set foot on for decades. Nan had arrived there as a young girl in the late seventies, desperate for freedom and a career as an artist. But, drawn into a dark obsession that spun out of control, Nan was forced to flee.

And while the only thing seemingly connecting her son's wedding and her old secret life is Paradise Place, Nan quickly gets the impression that someone is watching her every move . . . someone she thought was dead.

In Broken Flowers by Kate McQuaile Nan, a widow, is heading to London for her son’s wedding. While that should be good news she has been estranged from her son for a couple of years now. Equally very few people know (her son included) that she lived in London herself in the late 1970s. That was not a happy time for her and she has kept the events secret for many years. This is one of those “Now and Then” stories. It switches between the late 1970s and the present day.

Slightly strangely (to me) the “Now” part of Broken Flowers is in the first person from Nan’s perspective in the main. The “Then” part in London in the seventies is written in the third person. One or two things are apparently clear from the start. It seems that Nan may have murdered someone during her time in London. She then returned to her northern home and her husband of many years has recently died. As the book progresses there are a number of reveal moments when we find out more about past and present events.

I’d prefer not to say more about this interesting story – the reader would be better making that journey for themselves. What I will say is that there is a spooky edge to this tale. Even when it’s not spooky you just know things are going to happen that may have profound effects. I found the storytelling good and the characters were certainly up to the jobs they were given. Some are maybe less than pleasant and some may have made mistakes but it makes for a very readable book.

I did find that I worked out some of the twists in advance (maybe not all!) however I’m not complaining. There is well worked tension in Broken Flowers. I for one would certainly read something else by Kate McQuaile. For those who like a dark tense tale this one should satisfy most.

Note – I received an advance digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review