“I wanted you to have an extraordinary life,” confesses Rosemary’s mother in Karen Joy Fowler’s wise, provocative and wildly endearing take on family love. Did no one warn Mrs Cooke to be careful what she wished for? Had she any inkling of the family cataclysm her innocent desire would engender, and the complex repercussions her daughter would suffer in its wake?
Rewind to the day back in 1970s Indiana, when narrator-heroine Rosemary is separated from her beloved “twin” sister, Fern, and sent, aged five, for a week’s visit to her grandparents. “I knew the winds of doom when they blew,” Rosemary recalls. She senses that she has committed a heinous crime, for which her punishment is expulsion from the bosom of the family. But no. On her return, it is the thrill-seeking Fern who has been dispatched – never to be seen again. There are no explanations.