Book Review: The Beloveds by Maureen Lindley

The Beloveds by Maureen Lindley
My rating: 🌟🌟🌟 (3 stars)
Publisher: Gallery Books

The summary really drew me to The Beloveds (okay, so did that cover!) but I did not (nor could I have) anticipated a narrator as sour as Betty/Lizzie. Wow. She was so thoroughly demented and unreliable a narrator that I disbelieved that none around her ever got the sense that anything was amiss. Not even her psychoanalyst sister, Gloria. My eyebrow quirked permanently from about a third of the way through the book.

I don't want to give many spoilers here but I will say that with Betty's single-minded plan to procure the one thing she values in the world, her family home Pipets, she never cultivates a deep and layered personality. Her narration is at times raving and rides the line of barking mad at others when she embarks on her quest. I don't know if that was a flaw or a feature of the characterisation here but it made for a conundrum of a read as the story is told from her POV but she always felt remote and at a remove as she's relating all. She has no life or desire but one. To be alone with House. Quite clearly and without hyperbole, she resents and hates everyone in her life, possibly in the world. I felt neutral about the other characters in the book because while some of them had slighted Betty/Lizzie, her avarice is so extreme that it's impossible to take her opinions and views of situations and people as the truth. My perfect ending for this story was Betty/Lizzie pouring a final gin inside House as they both are reduced to cinders and ash in a fire that the village would be talking about fifty years on. Alas, that was not to be.

I liked the writing style, found it atmospheric in places and elegiac in tone overall. I don't come across many modern gothic reads but this fit the bill. I liked this and would read another by Lindley.

I wouldn't recommend this to everyone but if you are one who loves a good unreliable narrator and are able to deal with a character's dark deeds going unfound out and unpunished in the literal sense, dive in.

Summary:  Oh, to be a Beloved—one of those lucky people for whom nothing ever goes wrong. Everything falls into their laps without effort: happiness, beauty, good fortune, allure.
Betty Stash is not a Beloved—but her little sister, the delightful Gloria, is. She’s the one with the golden curls and sunny disposition and captivating smile, the one whose best friend used to be Betty’s, the one whose husband shouldhave been Betty’s. And then, to everyone’s surprise, Gloria inherits the family manse—a vast, gorgeous pile of ancient stone, imposing timbers, and lush gardens—that was never meant to be hers.
Losing what Betty considers her rightful inheritance is the final indignity. As she single-mindedly pursues her plan to see the estate returned to her in all its glory, her determined and increasingly unhinged behavior—aided by poisonous mushrooms, talking walls, and a phantom dog—escalates to the point of no return. The Beloveds will have you wondering if there’s a length to which an envious sister won’t go.

No comments