I first heard about this book from another book blogger and loved the cover and description of the book.
I find the Edwardian era and particularly silent movies fascinating so this was one I had to read.
The book is set in the hot summer of 1976 in Brighton but the author gives it the fictional name of Brightland which all adds to the whole evocative and ethereal other worldly feel to the book.
A young journalist Ed Peters finds an old dusty shop in The Lanes full of photographs of old silent movie stars and associated ephemera and props. He enters with the intention of buying a photo of Bette Davis, one of the idols of his deceased mother who had committed suicide. Inside the shop Ed is drawn to a photo of another silent movie star which the proprietor, Theo a rather eccentric and arthritic elderly man, informs him is his sister Leda Grey once a star of silent films. Ed learns from Theo that his sister is still alive and living the life of a recluse up in an old house on the crumbling cliffs. Ed buys the photo and intrigued decides to pay the old lady a visit to research what he feels might make a good story.
He eventually climbs his way up a crumbling weather-worn path where he finds the old Leda Grey living in a crumbling, decaying and damp old mausoleum of a house surrounded by the reminders and keepsakes of her time as the young and captivating star and muse for the late film director Charles Beauvois.
Leda Grey, in shades of Miss Haversham, dresses in dusty old gowns whose hems sweep the floor and collect dust and crumbs. She welcomes the young journalist into her home that has no electricity or other utilities, frozen in time and filled with echoes and ghosts of the past. Slowly and tantalisingly drawing him (and us the readers) in, she reveals the story and her mysterious past with details of the secrets and traumatic events that led her to cut herself off from reality and the rest of the world.
A fascinating story, which at times gave me the cold chills. Very cleverly written in a unique and insightful way by someone with a real feel for that era and the gift of conveying atmosphere into words.
I obtained my copy from NetGalley with thanks to them and the publishers Orion books.