A very easy four stars. Almost five.
This story starts slow and builds and builds and builds. It is fantastically written and the prose is so lyrical that it felt at times as though I were reading a poem. The writing itself grows and by the end you feel as though you're reading a different book entirely.
It is mysterious and shocking, with threads of romance woven through. The little town has just as much of a little mind, is judgemental and closed and old-fashioned even for the times. It's a poisonous little place.
At first I found it a little difficult to differentiate between the different narratives, but it soon became easy, the voices became so much more distinct once I better knew the characters.
I love poisonous relationships. And this book has plenty. Whether it's romance or family, or the twisted small-town community relationships, they're great in this book.
Emily was the character that got to me the most. It's like she aged all of a sudden, yet at the same time it was so slow and subtle. She was infuriating and more than a little silly, but she grew up and did the right thing.
I felt so sorry for Sarah and only wish I hadn't been drip-fed the information so slowly. But at the same time it was right for the pacing of the story.
This is a book that would quite easily help me pass a long, slow summer's day.