Dial, 2010 (2009)
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Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
is an utterly charming tale of a friendship that grows between opposites, family ties that span time and cultural dissonance, and an unlikely romance whose catalyst is a determined ghost. It teaches us also to look a little harder at the elderly and to make no assumptions about the joie de vivre and the experience that might lie behind their frailty and wrinkled skin.
ara Lington seems to lead a rather feckless life, rushing from one crisis to the next. As
opens, she's in a failing (a fact she's hiding from her concerned parents) headhunting venture with her best friend Natalie (who's currently absent in Goa) and she's deluding herself about the possibility of renewing her relationship with her ex-boyfriend Josh - in fact she's been stalking him. But, though we may disapprove of her, it's hard not to like Lara.
hen she attends her great-aunt Sadie Lancaster's funeral with the rest of the family, Lara begins to hear a voice that no-one else senses - dead at a hundred and five, Sadie has unfinished business and pesters her great-niece to find her missing dragonfly necklace, all the while making acerbic comments about Lara's lifestyle, fashion and business sense, and bad taste in men.
o delay Sadie's cremation, Lara makes ridiculous claims to the police about a murder, and digs herself deeper and deeper into trouble. To placate '
the flakiest ghost in the world
' haunting her, Lara dresses twenties style, and, egged on by Sadie's desire for a last fling, '
One last whirl around the dance floor
', asks a total stranger (American Ed Harrison) on a date. She discovers that Sadie has excellent taste in men. Ed calls Lara
eeking the missing necklace, Lara is surprised to find another family member had been there first - her plutocrat Uncle Bill, famed for turning Lingtons Coffee into a worldwide empire from nothing and for his inspiring autobiography,
Two Little Coins
. Why would he be so interested in Sadie's property? As Lara untangles the mystery, Sadie uses her ability to influence people to help with Lara's business and (more reluctantly) relationship problems.
hough often over the top,
is fantastic, frothy fun with an underlying serious vein about neglect of the elderly. From a total disinterest in her ancient relative at the beginning of the story, Lara evolves into a passionate defender of Sadie's story, which turns out to be a remarkable one and to affect her descendants' lives in many positive ways. Don't miss this absolutely delightful read.
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