During the oppressive heat wave of 1976, a young journalist, Ed Peters, finds an Edwardian photograph in a junk shop in the Brighton Lanes. It shows an alluring dark-haired girl, an actress whose name was Leda Grey.
Leda Grey is living still, in a decaying clifftop house once shared with a man called Charles Beauvois, a director of early silent film. As Beauvois' lover and his muse, Leda often starred in scenes where stage magic and trick photography were used to astonishing effect. But while playing a cursed Egyptian queen, the fantasies captured on celluloid were echoed in reality when Beauvois suspected a love affair between Leda and her leading man.
A horrific accident left Leda abandoned and alone for more than half a century - until Ed Peters finds her and hears the secrets of her past, resulting in a climax more haunting than any to be found in the silent films of Charles Beauvois.
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Decadent, gorgeous and delightfully unsettling
Gripping, gothic, gorgeous
The atmosphere conjured by hugely evocative writing - about lost silent movies, extravagant sets, a crumbling cliff top mansion. There is one scene when Peter goes to the kitchen and nearly eats a shiny fresh apple - only when he looks again, it's mouldering and maggoty. Something very strange is happening to time...
Peter Noble delivers a convincing delivery of young journalist Ed, catching his hesitancy as he tries to resist the lure of Leda. Rachel Atkins is tremendous as Leda; she could be sitting in front of you, drawing you in... The audio book frees your imagination to vividly picture the scenes.
The audio book drew me in and I hurried through it in a few days. I listened to the last hour in one sitting - I had to know what was going on!
This is Essie Fox's best novel yet – set in 1976 and Edwardian days, presenting a small cast of vivid and unique characters. I loved this book and recommend it to anyone looking for an imaginative and immersive audio book.
- Finakilly Chris