Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Fiends of the Family - Pat Flower

Cover shown is the 1966 first edition by Robert Hale Ltd (UK). Cover art by Barbara Walton.

The Grey girls have just waved goodbye to their mother at the train station. She's been rather ill and has decided to admit herself into a nursing home outside of Sydney. That's what the family solicitor is told. Or perhaps she is holidaying around Australia, visiting the Centre and having the time of her life, as their aunt is told. Or she could be dead, buried out the back in the garden.

It has taken over 40 years, but finally spinsters Virginia, Stella and Maggie Grey are out from under the thumb of their tyrannical mother. They thought getting rid of her would mean a new life of freedom. But it doesn't take long before money worries and the threat of discovery eat away at their (many) insecurities.

When Stella, the weakest and gentlest of the sisters, meets a goodlooking businessman and starts a clandestine affair with him, jealous Virginia knows it won't be long before their secret is told. So Stella must be silenced. With Stella gone the only question is who will be next, and the tension in the house and the constant insults escalate as Virginia and Maggie begin eating only the food they cooked themselves, and locking their bedroom doors at night. In the end, however, it's their mother who has the last word...

Patricia Flower (b. 1914) was born in England and emigrated to Australia at the age of 14. She married Australian painter Cedric Flower in 1949, six weeks after divorcing her first husband. Her first crime novel was published in 1958; she then published at least one crime novel every two years until 1975. Suffering from insomnia and arthritis, she grew increasingly isolated from the outside world and committed suicide in September, 1977.

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