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Reviewed by K T Bowes for Readers' Favorite
Against the picturesque backdrop of Cornwall, Judy Finnigan in Eloise allows this mystery to play out, beginning with the tragically premature death of Eloise from breast cancer. Deeply affected by her best friend's death, Cathy struggles to cope with her loss in an already fragile and highly vulnerable mental state. But as the novel progresses, those around Cathy cast doubt on her sanity as the ghost of Eloise gradually exerts a tumultuous grip on her life, bearing the message, 'Watch over my babies.' Eloise's continued presence within Cathy's waking and sleeping moments isolates and alienates her from her own family and Eloise's, driving a sizable rift between Cathy and her psychiatrist husband which seems too great to overcome. The novel follows twists and turns as Cathy discovers secrets about Eloise which she was never privy to, secrets that threaten to wound some of her closest and dearest friends. Cathy succumbs to the label of 'madwoman' with a breakdown from which she struggles to recover, leaving her at the mercy of her pompous, superior husband, until finally nobody believes the warnings from Eloise that drive Cathy to distraction. But Eloise is real and so is the danger; only Cathy is almost too late to prevent a terrible catastrophe.
The author brings to this story a passion for Cornwall which is highly infectious and will gladden other hearts who love the place. The character of Cathy is both flawed and delightful, drawing the reader into familiar mental gymnastics experienced by any seasoned woman of the world. She is utterly believable and so well drawn that the reader would have no hesitation in being friends with her. Juliana and Ted are master strokes in personality studies, one making the reader watch in awe, while the other in terror and disgust for his unhealthy self-absorption. The character of Chris is superior, bossy, self-indulgent and irritating. It was a major downside of the novel for me that someone as lovely as Cathy would put up with such a bore and allow herself back under the shelter of his increasingly tedious wing; sadly it diminished her slightly. The pace of the novel is fast, with good description along the way to keep the reader engaged and following happily. The setting is depicted superbly and gives the reader a real sense of being in Cornwall.