By the time troubled artist Rachel Kelly dies of a heart attack, her glory days are behind her. She leaves an adoring husband, two grown-up sons and a disturbed daughter. She also bequeaths a dark mystery concerning her past. What follows is a beautifully written, slowly unravelling tale of changing family dynamics, the curse of bipolar disorder and the balm of Quakerism. Husband Anthony first encountered enigmatic, skittish Rachel as a student at Oxford and, following her near miscarriage and mental breakdown, offered her refuge in his Cornish home. The family they have is rocked by manic depression and bent to Rachel’s obsession with her art, but it is also firmly anchored by their faith. After her death, Anthony traces Rachel’s early life to Toronto and contact with her sister brings astonishing revelations about her turbulent early years. Patrick Gale’s serene and carefully crafted prose conveys a profound understanding of the workings of human relationships and the torment that mental illness causes its sufferers and also those around them.

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