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John Finbow, a successful writer, and his wife Kay move into Southcombe Rectory, a large Victorian house that has been empty since the 1960s. It had previously been owned by the Cuthbertson family who had lived there for generations. Their marriage is under strain, as John, 39 would like children before he gets too old, but Kay, 34, does not.
When John is working in his study soon after moving in, he is disturbed by the sight of a young woman who appears out of the blue on his sofa. Emily Cuthbertson, whose old bedroom is now John’s study, was 25 at the time of her death and the youngest of 8 offspring of the late Reverend Arthur Cuthbertson and his wife Delia. Emily had died in 1868 but is now unwilling to leave behind her old life on earth, due to having missed out on a family of her own whilst being a companion to her widowed mother. Emily is still desperate for a husband and children, and John is the answer to her dreams.

One hundred and thirty years separate them. Will Emily and John’s love survive time’s relentless march?

Review:

Fair Play

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 24 June 2019

One could argue the tagline for this excellent book could be ‘Emily is still desperate for a husband and children, and John is the answer to her dreams.’ The trouble is Emily and John are separated in time by over one hundred years.

Emily is introduced at the start of the book and at first, I thought I was about to read an excellent work of historical fiction as the setting, language, and social conventions are firmly placed in Victorian England. The other main characters are John Finbow and his wife, Kay, who are introduced in a modern-day 1990s setting. The rest of the story is told through the points of view of Emily, John, and Kay and most of the chapters alternate between those characters.

John Finbow is an apparently successful and wealthy screenwriter. He and his wife Kay move into Southcombe Rectory, a large Victorian house that has been empty since the 1960s. It had previously been owned by the Cuthbertson family who had lived there for generations. The ‘Emily’ referred to is the youngest of eight offspring of the late Reverend Arthur Cuthbertson and his wife Delia.

We soon learn about the strain in John and Kay’s marriage as 39-year-old John, would like to start a family, but Kay, 34, doesn’t relish the idea.

It is only after the Finbows move into the rectory we are treated to a brilliantly written paranormal novel. There are apparitions and other ‘out-of -this -world’ experiences which drew me in right from the start. Not only did they draw me in, but I was kept enthralled by the plot and the quality of the writing as I turned page after page. It was during my frenzy of page-turning, I thought this author should be renamed Stevie Page-Turner.

As the plot develops, we are also treated to a nice sub-plot: will John get arrested? [no spoilers from me]

This brilliant book is more than a paranormal novel as it operates at several levels including romance, urban fiction, and a good dollop of crime fiction. It’s worthy of turning into a movie.

As the book description says: One hundred and thirty years separate them. Will Emily and John’s love survive time’s relentless march?

You really do need to read it and find out for yourself. Highly recommended!