‘Fragile’ by Sarah Hilary is thrilling

‘Fragile’ by Sarah Hilary is a tense story of dangerous man. In this respect, it is reminiscent of ‘Jamaica Inn’ by Daphne du Maurier. It is also a book full of secrets and betrayals. For this reason and the dreamy atmosphere of the novel, many commentators compare it to modern gothic. It is a masterpiece coming from such an accomplished and award-winning writer. It is stunningly well-written, with well developed characters and full of intrigue. The title draws us in too, as everyone knows fragile people. How easy they could break. The story is full of suspense and has a killer twist towards the end. 

The man protagonist, Nell Ballard, is a homeless runaway from her foster house in Wales. She has the tumulus past, as a former foster child. Very early on we learn about the death of a child in the same foster care placement. Guilt is quickly shifted to the foster mother, but this turns not be correct in the end. 

The beginning of the novel grips us straight away, as we cannot figure out who is Nell and what kind of job an enigmatic man, Robin Wilder, has lined up for her at Starling Villas in London. The job is offered for a secretary, but the position is more for a housekeeper. The reader may also think that this is a position for a prostitute. Soon Nell is placed in the maze of rigid rules, conventions and hard work. Her new safe home might not be as it seems. Emotional and physical exploitations is skilly depicted. The author is not shy from anatomising human nature and motivations as under a molecular microscope.

The relationships and betrayals in the novel are also crafty built. Nell is obsessed by a boy from her foster care who has a drug addiction( Joe). Despite her carnal love for him, both of them have other relationships, including Nell’s with her employer, Robin. This all leads us to an unexpected murder and the house being burned down, as ‘everything she touches breaks’.

It is my first novel my Sarah Hilary, but I greatly enjoyed it and recommend it to all. You can buy ‘Fragile’ online. Do check some of my other reviews