“Lately, I’ve been dreaming about my mother,” explains Zoe Whittaker, the protagonist of Kate Moratti’s new novel, The Vanishing Year. The opening is reminiscent of that of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca and indeed, both novels contain well-plotted mysteries that uncover long-buried family secrets.
Zoe can scarcely believe her luck when one of New York’s wealthiest bachelors falls in love with her and, and after a whirlwind romance, the two marry in a small but expensive ceremony. To the outside world, Zoe’s life looks idyllic but she is keeping a big secret from her new husband Henry: a few years earlier, she had another life altogether, one that she left behind entirely after the death of her beloved adoptive mother.
Now Zoe spends her days attending functions with Henry and working on the board of a charity but she misses her old job as a florist and begins to seek more fulfilment than philanthropy-numbers can offer. In the absence of family members — or many real friends — she also hopes to track down her elusive birth mother. But delving into her past may threaten her relationship with her husband and even her safety, and finding out the answers she craves threatens to bring her closer into grave danger.
The Vanishing Year alternates chapters from glamorous present-day Manhattan with flashbacks from Zoe’s past life in California. Moretti's novel is compelling and well-paced and with a sympathetic but complex central character. New York City itself has a central role too, as the characters waltz from glamorous uptown restaurants soirées to cramped downtown apartments and quieter Brooklyn suburbs. The Vanishing Year is often dark and always suspenseful, and will keep you hooked until its dramatic conclusion.
Disclaimer: The Vanishing Year, published by Atria Books, is out now. I received a pre-release copy via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.