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Darling Girls Reviewed by Ekta R. Garg of Bookpleasures.com
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Norm Goldman --  BookPleasures.com Norm Goldman -- BookPleasures.com
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Montreal, Quebec
Wednesday, April 24, 2024

 

Ekta R. Garg

Reviewer Ekta Garg: Ektahas actively written and edited since 2005 for publications like: ThePortland Physician Scribe; the Portland Home BuildersAssociation home show magazines; ABCDlady; and TheBollywood Ticket. With an MSJ in magazine publishing fromNorthwestern University Ekta also maintains TheWrite Edge- a professional blog for her writing. In additionto her writing and editing, Ekta maintains her position as a“domestic engineer”—housewife—and enjoys being a mother totwo beautiful kids.

View all articles by Ekta R. Garg

Author: Sally Hepworth

Publisher: St. Martin’sPress

ISBN: 9781250284525

A trio of foster sistersmust confront their worst memories of the home that brought themtogether when a police investigation makes a discovery there. As thewomen travel back to the place of their adolescence, they carry withthem secrets that they’ve managed to keep from one another but thattie them together. Author Sally Hepworth returns doing what she doesbest in the domestic thriller genre with her latest page-turner,Darling Girls.


In Melbourne, Australia,Jessica Lovat has the most perfectly ordered life. As an expert inhome organization, Jessica is sought all over the city for herability to bring even the most chaotic living spaces into submission.So what if she happens to swipe a few bottles of Valium here orthere? The uber rich women she works for probably don’t even missthem anyway, and it’s much easier than getting her ownprescription. It’s also easier than admitting she needs one.

On the way home fromworking with her latest client, Jessica gets a call that forces herto pull to the side of the road. During the routine demolition of abuilding in the small town of Port Agatha, two hours away fromMelbourne, construction workers came across human remains. Now thepolice want to talk to Jessica, because the remains were found underthe foster home where she spent a decade of her life.

Jessica wants absolutelynothing to do with the investigation. The foster home, Wild Meadows,provided her with some of her most painful memories. The fostermother, Miss Fairchild, leaves Jessica feeling angry and confused andsad and desperate to please. 

In the early years, MissFairchild loved Jessica best. After the others came, she gave heraffection to them. Even though she knows Miss Fairchild was theproblem, Jessica has been fighting a twisted sense of loyalty eversince.

Fortunately, Jessicawasn’t the only witness to Miss Fairchild’s erratic behavior. Hersisters, Norah and Alicia, each have their own complicatedrelationships with their former foster parent. Although Jessica,Norah, and Alicia aren’t sisters by birth, the awful upbringingthey experienced at Wild Meadows bound them more closely than anyblood bond could. 

It makes sense, then, thatthe police reach out to all three women about the human remains atWild Meadows, but the sisters aren’t surprised by the call. Theworld thought Wild Meadows was a safe home for children. No one knewbetter than Jessica, Norah, and Alicia that it was a place wherechildren were punished for the smallest infraction by extrememeasures, and a heavy burden they share from their years at WildMeadows leaves them unsurprised about the discovery. 

Now the three of them willhave to figure out how much responsibility they bear for that burden.It’s the only way they’ll be able to convince the police,themselves, and each other that what happened during their years atWild Meadows truly wasn’t their fault. Unless the police call themout first for what is looking more and more like murder.

Author Sally Hepworth’slatest book carries her trademark dedication to strong femalerelationships and the complications that run between them. All threesisters are flawed and relatable. It’s easy to draw a line betweentheir years at Wild Meadows and the personality traits that developlater in life as a result.

Hepworth’s storytellingshines as she switches points of view from one character to the next,giving each of the women their own voices. Jessica, Norah, and Aliciaall share time on the page and get to tell their stories. Readerswill find themselves sympathizing with the girls in a narrative that,despite being a world away, will sound unfortunately familiar toanyone with experience connected to any kind of foster or home caresystem.

The book is compellingenough to be read in a single sitting but, at times, lacks the depthof Hepworth’s earlier books. Readers follow the sisters fromMelbourne to the town of Port Agatha and through the policeinvestigation at a breakneck pace. The narrative would have benefitedfrom a little more nuance and time spent with each of the women tobuild tension and allow the sense of drama to grow. Instead, it feelslike the novel is running toward its conclusion, and it doesn’tgive readers time to settle into any one plotline before jumpinglanes.

Still, Hepworth’s booksare always a delight. Those who enjoy her work will not bedisappointed with this latest addition to her list. I recommendreaders Bookmark Darling Girls by Sally Hepworth.

 Norm Goldman of Bookpleasures.com

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