Tuesday 15 February 2022

Book Review: The Scarlet Dress by Louise Douglas

The Scarlet Dress by Louise Douglas book cover

Alice Lang was wearing her favourite scarlet dress when she disappeared twenty-five years ago, and her memory still casts a long shadow.

In the long, hot summer of 1995, twenty-two-year-old Alice Lang rents a caravan on a holiday park on the outskirts of the lively holiday resort of Severn Sands. She befriends Marnie, a shy, damaged little girl whose father is the park's caretaker and whose mother died a few months earlier. Will, whose mother runs the bar, falls in love with Alice and is unbearably jealous of anyone else she sees. Tensions rise until one evening Alice disappears from her caravan. She's never seen again, and only her scarlet dress is found washed up on the shore.

A quarter of a century later, the town is run down and nobody comes there anymore. Mr and Mrs deVillars, former owners of the holiday park, have passed the failing business onto their son Guy, who promptly sells the land for development. Builders clearing the land to create an expanse of executive homes uncover human bones. It has to be Alice.

Will and Marnie’s lives were entirely shaped by what happened that summer, and now Alice has been found, they must struggle to pin down their memories, to escape the secrets of the past, the lies they told and the unbearable guilt they're both carrying.

They need to find out what happened to Alice. Who killed her? And why?

The Scarlet Dress is an immersive and highly atmospheric read.

This evocative book tells the story of Alice Lang - her life, her disappearance, and the mystery surrounding her untimely death. Before her disappearance, Alice is a vivid, larger-than-life character. She is bold and free-spirited, catching the eye of countless individuals around the holiday park. 

Alice soon forms an unlikely friendship with little Marnie Morahan, daughter of the park's recently widowed caretaker. She navigates the mother-shaped hole in Marnie's life with ease, effortlessly slotting herself into Marnie's life as part teacher, part role model, and firm friend. The third member of their trio is Will, a teenager on the cusp of adulthood who finds himself falling hopelessly in love with Alice during that long, hot summer.

Once Alice disappears, Marnie and Will have no choice but to face a future without her. Each deals with their grief in different ways - yet neither can forget Alice Lang. 

When Alice's body is found by the developers working at the former holiday park, Will and Marnie find themselves back in Severn Sands together once again. Many years have passed since that fateful summer, but somehow, it feels like the time never really happened at all. With the mystery of Alice hanging over Severn Sands, can they finally lay the past to rest?  

The golden haze of nostalgia hangs over every element of this story, from the sticky, hot days of summers past to the fun, laughter, and carefree nature of a British caravan park in its heyday. All the characters remember the summer Alice disappeared for one reason or another, and the feeling of being stuck in the past permeates through the pages of the book. It's beautifully written and makes you reminisce about your own childhood holidays. 

Rating: 4 stars 

The Scarlet Dress is available to buy now.

If you like the sound of this book, you might also enjoy...

Will you be reading the book? Let me know in the comments below! 

No comments:

Post a Comment