Sunday, 3 January 2016

Happy New Year! And the delicious possibility of foul play...

What will 2016 bring?
Hopefully a more peaceful world than we saw in 2015... and, of course, some terrific new books to read. I have recently been giggling my way through Bill Bryson's latest on his travels through Britain. Isn't it great to read a book that makes you laugh out loud? Maybe that's what we need more of this New Year: laughter.

The Housemaid's Daughter has now been out for a couple of years, and yet I'm still getting feedback from readers all over the world. The latest was from a book group in the USA, who were getting together to discuss the novel. If I look back on all the questions I've been asked, probably the most unexpected one concerned the fate of Phil, Cath's war-wounded son and close companion of Ada. Most readers wonder whether Phil committed suicide or whether his death was a tragic accident. Ada wonders, too.
Why did Master Phil lean out of the window so far?
Why didn't he call to me in the garden below?
How could I have been so wrong about him getting better?

But one reader really took me by surprise:
Was Phil pushed? And if so, by whom?
Now, I must admit I've never revealed my leaning on the suicide/accident scenario. I think it's for every reader to make up his or her own mind. The uncertainty adds to the tension, and also mirrors Ada's bewilderment at the time, and reflects her changing view as she matures. But one thing I can confirm is that I never contemplated foul play in the matter of Phil's death.
And yet it's an intriguing possibility...
What do you think?
Who killed Phil?
And where might The Housemaid's Daughter have gone if it were true?

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