Friday, November 2, 2012

Book Review: Alys, Always by Harriet Lane

Happening upon a car accident on a country road, Frances Thorpe does what any decent human being would do: she calls for help and remains at the scene, talking through the cracked, foggy windshield to Alice, who is alone and trapped in the car. Eventually Alice stops talking, the police arrive and Frances continues on to London. Days later she realizes that Alice was actually Alys Kyte, the wife of prominent British novelist Laurence Kyte. Frances meets with the family and develops a friendship with Alys’s teenage daughter, Polly.  As a low-level assistant editor for the literature section of a weekly newspaper, Frances realizes that her connection to the family can be used to advance her career. First, dinner and party invitations come her way; then better job assignments and finally, a promotion. But Frances wants more. She covets the class and privileged life of the Kytes and connives to insert herself into their family. No longer satisfied with passively accepting whatever opportunities come her way, she coldly schemes to replace Alys, feeling no scruples about her deceptions.  As one successful ruse leads to another, Frances must use ever riskier tactics to manipulate the family. Since one wrong move would destroy her personal and professional life, Alys, Always, which began as a study of society, concludes as a novel of suspense.