It's difficult to summarize this book without giving anything away. It's dual POV and dual timeline (part one takes place in the aughts, part two takes place ten years in the future). Lily is a criminal defense lawyer married to a painter, Ed. Ed's career is shaky and he's also an alcoholic. Lily makes much more money and she's in the middle of a case that could make her potentially famous if she succeeds. The two of them also have an autistic son named Tom who lives away from them, going to a boarding school that can accommodate his needs.
Carla, on the other hand, lives next door to Lily and Ed. Her mother is a beautiful woman and an immigrant from Italy. The two of them have come to England because her mother is estranged from her family, for reasons that also have to do with the man who comes over weekends to have sex with her mother (but no, he's not The Reason). Carla has a lot of emotional issues. She's a liar, a thief, and possibly sociopathic. What she wants most is what other people have, perhaps because her own life exists on such a shaky foundation. When she crosses paths with Lily, she sets the two of them on a collision course that will come full circle ten years in the future.
I really liked this book a lot. It's not really a thriller-thriller; the focus is the book is more on the complex relationships between all the characters, and ALL of them have done terrible things. Which I think is why maybe people don't like this book. It's hard to read something and not have someone to root for. On the other hand, I always have a healthy amount of respect for authors who can write about unlikable people and still make them interesting, realistic, and complex. The ending was pretty satisfying, albeit bittersweet, although I wouldn't say it was particularly happy, either.
If you enjoy reading books that show people at their worst, and what they do when they get backed into a corner and desperate, this will be a great book for you. I'm definitely interested in reading more of this author's work. This would make a great TV mini-series, imo.
3.5 to 4 out of 5 stars