The Death of Mrs Westaway is my least favorite of Ruth Ware’s novels, but even having said that, it’s still a truly great read. That’s just how good she is. You never need worry about which Ruth Ware novel you choose whether it be The Lying Game; In a Dark, Dark Wood or The Woman in Cabin 10 because you really are guaranteed to love it. This one focuses on a bereavement, a potential crime, a confused family history, a terrifying housekeeper and an element of the occult. Seriously, if that combination doesn’t tempt you, I really don’t know what will and you should probably find yourself another book blog!
Unkind, unloving Mrs Westaway is dead and her family are summoned for the reading of the will. Harriet ‘Hal’ Westaway finds herself included as part of this group even though she knows that she is not the grandchild that she is presumed to be. That said, Hal’s personal financial situation is such that ‘desperate times require desperate measures’ and so, she heads down to Penzance in essence to defraud the family. What she finds there is a family driven apart by the now dead Mrs Westaway and a truth that she did not expect.
This is riveting stuff, even by Ware’s standards and Hal, despite the fact that she stands on the cusp of a criminal act is a character that you can really root for. The family is well written and presented in that wonderfully British middle to upper class realm, beset by financial difficulties whilst remaining relatively well off. Mrs Warren, the housekeeper, is straight out of the Mrs Danvers playbook and the setting of the house in Cornwall gives a wonderfully Du Maurier edge also.
If I was a first time Ruth Ware reader, I’d still plump for In a Dark, Dark Wood ahead of any of the other books, but this is an easy fun read.