Out of the Shadows (by Titia Sutherland)

'Out of the Shadows' was the second novel written by Tita Sutherland, but mostly it reads as if written by a long-established author. The story is about Rachel, recently widowed, who decides to research some of the history of her house in London. As she does so, she encounters some surprises, including a few ghosts!

The characters are all beautifully drawn, particularly Rachel's young granddaughter Emily, a serious and sensitive child. Conversations are realistic, family dynamics perhaps a little exaggerated but none the worse for that. A sideline involves Rachel's decision to take in a lodger rather than move from the house. Although this works reasonably well as a subplot, I felt it was included simply to provide some romance. The character of Tom, the lodger, isn't nearly so well developed as those of Rachel's family, and their relationship seems very muddled and not quite believable at times.

Still, overall it was an excellent read. The ghosts were dealt with sensitively, with the story behind their appearance built up skilfully. Some of the minor characters were delightful, and in the last few chapters it was impossible to put down. Recommended to anyone who likes 1990s character-driven books.

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