Duffy is skilful at describing how her characters cope with awful things (“She . . . understood that she was here and now and she was also thinking ahead. . . to a time and place where this wasn’t happening”), but there’s an almost fairytale “goodies v baddies” feel to the novel on account of the abusers being from one family and the abused from another. And the plot, while gripping enough, relies too heavily on Lucy withholding information before revealing it at helpful moments.
Whether it’s down to the sure rhythm of Duffy’s faultless storytelling or the fadedbackdrop of the south coast of England, her latest novel is a comforting tale despite some gritty subject matter, which includes backstreet abortions and trauma. It opens as eightysomething Kitty takes her own life, leaving behind not just a gaping hole in the world of her two great-nieces, but a mystery, too. Four dates contained in a note seem to hold the key, concealing secrets that bind three generations of Beth and Sara’s family.
An English seaside town, seen through the eyes of three generations of the same family, is the setting for the 17th book by the author and playwright. This novel is, in essence, a thriller: when Lucy finds the body of her great-aunt Kitty, a note and empty pill bottles lying next to her, she is determined to unravel the truth of what happened. But Duffy is not simply a crime writer; her prose is warm and intriguing, and Lullaby Beach explores familial legacy, generational secrets and the effects of long-lasting trauma with a distinct tenderness.