Finished July 3
Lost Among the Living by Simone St. James
This historical fiction novel is set in 1921, with the central character of Jo Manders. Jo's husband Alex, a pilot with the RAF disappeared when his plane crashed in 1918 over German-held territory. His body has never been found and he didn't turn up in any POW camps or hospitals at the end of the war. Jo is in limbo, not able to receive a widow's pension as he hasn't been officially declared dead. With little money and no remaining hope, Jo agrees to a position as paid companion to Alex's aunt Dottie. She and Dottie have been travelling on the Continent as Dottie buys up art at low prices. Now they are heading back to Dottie's country home.
The main reason that Jo needs money is to pay for the costs of the mental institution that her mother now lives in. Jo never knew her father and her mother's capacity to remain living in the world deteriorated as Jo grew up, finally necessitating the move to her current home. Jo worked as a typist before marrying and, as she gradually becomes to know Alex's past through his family, she understands that there is much she didn't know about him.
There are two mysterious deaths surrounding the stately home, one of an unknown man in the woods, and one of the young daughter of Jo's employer. What really happened the day they both died, and who knew the truth.
Jo, having lived with her mother's illness, is more open to alternate expectations than many would be, and she follows the clues she finds to learn the truth.
This is a ghost story, and a story of betrayal and secrets. It is also a story of hope. As with her previous books, I enjoyed the read.