Margaret Riley has enjoyed a long life, and at ninety is sometimes annoyed with the people around her, eschewing contact with most people while lost in her own memories.
So when she notices a new neighbor across the pond, she is caught off guard. The home had been empty for a while, and Margaret had come to count on that.
But she is curious about the younger woman, who has a small child, and finds out who she is in a rather surreptitious way. And arranges for them to meet when the librarian in the village points out the younger woman’s “work wanted” ad.
Jennifer Young and four-year-old Milo have left a past behind them, and hiding the secrets of that past now informs Jennifer’s life. Another mother, Megan, whose son Ben is in Milo’s preschool class, is reaching out to Jennifer. Worried about how much she can share, Jennifer is sometimes tense and often short in her responses.
Set in mountainous Sewanee, in Tennessee, the isolation could be just what each of these characters needs. But will their slowly building connection force their secrets into the open? Will each of them lose the protection of those secrets? Or will something unexpected come to them?
The New Neighbor is told alternately with multiple narrators, primarily from the first person voice of Margaret, and Jennifer’s third person perspective. Slowly we learn about each character, the lives they have lived, and what led them to keeping the secrets they now hope to keep hidden. As the secrets slowly come out, layer by layer, they seem less devastating, in some ways. Less startling.
But then, when Margaret starts to stir the pot, stepping into what is not her business, she unleashes a whole new drama that will impact all the characters.
I enjoyed Margaret and felt for her loneliness, but soon I was disgusted with her meddling. Jennifer was trying to move past the pain of her life with an addict and the betrayal of her daughter Zoe. And Zoe was probably just a typical teen, reacting without thinking.
They all had to accept the consequences of their actions.
A story that I could not put down, this one earned 5 stars from me. Recommended for all who enjoy family drama and secrets.
I received this e-ARC from NetGalley.