Title: The Beloveds by Maureen Lindley
Rating: ★★ (2/5)
Elizabeth Stash has never really loved anything in her life except Pipits, the cherished ancestral home of her childhood in rural England. Even when her mother’s favoritism for Elizabeth’s despised little sister Gloria reared its head, Pipits was there to enfold Elizabeth into a voice that spoke through creaking wood and rustling curtains. Her obsessive love for the house only grows with time, and when Elizabeth’s mother dies she is certain that she, the eldest daughter, will rightfully inherit Pipits. But when the will specifies that Pipits will pass to beautiful, beloved Gloria, Elizabeth begins to hatch an ugly plan that will soon consume her entirely.
The Beloveds is a book that flirts with the supernatural but for the most part stays staunchly psychological, delving deep into the malice which Elizabeth nurtures and cultivates. Elizabeth is a narcissist who can’t properly empathize with other people, considers herself superior to them, and is constantly convinced she’s been wronged. As far as unreliable, unsympathetic narrators go, Elizabeth held my attention, though some of her diatribes about being betrayed bordered on repetitive.
The tension in this book ratchets wonderfully as the narrator becomes more and more delusional, and as her actions become progressively more criminal and poorly disguised. However, and to my great disappointment, this suspense ultimately comes to nothing. Elizabeth character’s steadily erodes, but the lives of those around her remain largely unchanged, as as the book reaches what I hoped would be a gloriously cacophonous crescendo, it goes out with a whimper rather than a bang.
The Beloveds is an engaging read that cultivates a Gothic atmosphere without pulling in some of the more scenery-chewing tropes of the genre, but ultimately, it falls flat. It felt like one long character sketch, and Elizabeth’s family remained so unbelievably oblivious to her machinations that I supposed there must be some catch, something hidden from the narrator that would be revealed in the big finish. Sadly, there was not, and without any satisfying cherry on the cake of nastiness, The Beloveds is ultimately an unremarkable summer read.
Note: I received a copy of The Beloveds in exchange for an honest review. The Beloveds is set to drop on April 3, 2018.