This is the second book by Simone St. James that I’ve read, and it won’t be the last. I liked the first one I read (her most recent novel), The Broken Girls, the best, but Lost Among the Living didn’t disappoint. In fact, I liked that it was entirely historical fiction, while The Broken Girls was set partially in the present day.
The story’s heroine is Jo Manders, a young woman working as a companion to her aunt-by-marriage, Dottie Forsyth, a wealthy British woman who treats Jo like her servant. Whenever Dottie appeared on the page, I couldn’t help but think of Mrs. Van Hopper in Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca. She’s bossy, bitchy, and just totally self-centered. Jo doesn’t always stand up for herself when she should, but she’s not a complete pushover, either. When the story opens, she’s still incredibly fragile from the loss of her husband in World War I. Their whirlwind courtship is described in a relatively brief passage, but it was terribly romantic, and you can’t blame the poor girl for pining away for her husband, especially because he was never recovered from his fatal mission, meaning Jo is left in the limbo of being a war widow without any of the legal benefits.
Like The Broken Girls, a ghost story looms large in the plot of this novel, but it’s ultimately a murder mystery. The “murder” is mysterious in itself — it was ruled a suicide, and it may well have been, but there’s still no good explanation for what prompted it. I wasn’t completely surprised by any of the plot twists, which I would usually consider a negative, but I enjoyed the story so much, and the characters, that I didn’t mind that parts were predictable.
Lost Among the Living by Simone St. James