A jumble of entries, written in different hands, different languages, and different times. They tell of a rumour. A shadow. A killer.
The only interest that Oxford Professor Charles Meredith has in the diaries is as a record of Hungarian folklore ... until he comes face to face with a myth.
For Hannah Wilde, the diaries are a survival guide that taught her the three rules she lives by: verify everyone, trust no one, and if in any doubt, run. But Hannah knows that if her daughter is ever going to be safe, she will have to stop running and face the terror that has hunted her family for five generations. And nothing in the diaries can prepare her for that...
If you like your beach reads packed full of family mysteries, historical anomalies and some tense “can I trust you?” scenarios then, The String Dairies should be packed in your suitcase for this summer. As well as a fascinating multi-generational mystery where horror and death have stalked one family, there is some sweet romance which will make your heart flutter as well as much thought about the strength of parental love for their children.
The main story is told in three time periods – the present day where a wife flees with her husband and daughter from an assault in their home, the seventies Oxford where an English professor finds himself perusing an intriguing French visitor who had the tenacity to sit in his chair in the library and finally in late 19th century Hungary where a young man is struggling to define himself against his family and society expectations. There is a real mix of story types with adventure, historical, romance and thriller all mixed together to create a very exciting and intriguing story which is difficult to put down.
The writing is like swimming in treacle – easy to get into and very difficult to get out. I found myself just wanting to sit and read a few more pages as the wide scope of the story spread over so many years is finally pulled together. I liked Hannah, the fleeing wife as she struggles to balance the threat from her families past with her responsibility to her husband and daughter. She is a great character and I really felt connected to her, willing her on despite the obstacles she was facing. The end was very tense and satisfying without the need or set up for sequels – which makes a refreshing change!
This is one of those stories where the less you know going in, the more surprising and exciting the read is but I really think this worth reading especially if you liked The Historian or Before I Go To Sleep!
Recommended for fans of Elizabeth Kostova and Deborah Harkness. 8.5 out of 10