When a child is lost on a beach, head towards the sun in search of them. "Because children naturally walk towards the light. Always." So claims a character in Natalie Young's debut novel. The plot turns on the theme of obsession borne of loss: of hope, of a loved one, of self.
This is a morality tale; an unfurling of consequences. Arnaud and Lucie Borja leave the post-war privations of Paris for a village in the southern Cevennes. They buy a château. They plant vines. They perpetrate a deception whose poison bleeds through the years. Six decades later, Londoners Kate and Stephen Glover arrive on sabbatical. Kate's fascination with the château - its vines now withered - provides a catalyst, rousing ghosts and stirring her own restless spirit.
There are a couple of false starts before Young hits her stride. Undue prominence is given to Kate and Stephen - the least compelling thread - as they are forever wiping duck grease from their chins and marvelling at the ripeness of French tomatoes. But this is a pleasingly dark alternative to sunny summer reads.