“And can it be that in a world so full and busy the loss of one creature makes a void so wide and deep that nothing but the width and depth of eternity can fill it up!” –Charles Dickens
As a mother and grandmother, I have one word to describe how I felt when I started reading this book – frantic! Ava and Matt’s two-year-old daughter is missing and their loss, guilt, fear, and disbelief are so heartbreakingly real it pulses off every page.
Set in the present day, The Housewarming starts a year after the disappearance of Ava and Matt’s infant daughter, Abi. With no motive and no suspects, the couple are no closer to knowing what happened to their daughter on that fateful day any more than the police are. Abi was last seen at home, sitting in her pushchair in the hallway. Ava, who blames herself for leaving the front door open, and whose grief feels so realistic it pours from the pages, replays that terrible morning repeatedly in her head. Matt, on the other hand, is desperate to move on and find, or at least try to, a way to start living again. Their neighbours, the Lovegood’s, are having a housewarming and Matt thinks it would be a good idea for them to accept their invitation, if only to help Ava, now a virtual recluse, to start socialising with people again. Reluctantly, Ava agrees. However, conversations with friends at the housewarming about Abi’s disappearance leave Ava with more questions than she already had. Questions that, as she digs deeper, lead to devastating answers.
Narrated in dual timelines one year apart, The Housewarming, which centres around a missing child, is not an easy read. The writing, however, is stunning; hauntingly good. Ava’s remorse and regret is tangible, and although heartrending it is also gripping and once started, impossible to put down.