In the opening pages of Don’t Let Me Go: A Novel, the reader is gifted with visual images of the lovely New Zealand world of Te Puna in which Charlotte Nicholls and her charge Chloe (formerly Ottilie) are now residing. They are surrounded by the sea, beaches, and a lovely main house, in which reside Charlotte’s birth mother Anna and her husband Bob.
Charlotte and Chloe live in the little guest house called the “bach,” named so for its former use as a bachelor pad for Bob’s son Rick.
But what we don’t immediately see in the beginning is that once upon a time, Charlotte was a child whose mother’s husband killed his son, her father, and others in a massacre, and that she, Charlotte, was rescued and adopted by a rector and his wife. It would be many years before the whole story, told in the previous book No Child of Mine, would unfold.
These events may have informed later developments in Charlotte’s life, when as a social worker named Alex Lake, she took on the case of Ottilie Wade, whose abusive father would elude the system until one tragic night.
How they came to be living in New Zealand forms the basis for this story, and the ending for the previous one. But the idyllic days for Charlotte and Chloe are about to end…and in the months to follow, a nightmare will be unleashed.
How are Charlotte and Chloe discovered? What happens next, and how many further travesties must unfurl upon the fragile Chloe before the story ends?
Not to risk spoilers, let’s just say that you won’t want to put this book down, no matter how lengthy it is, as you will need to read every unexpected twist and turn along the journey. There is plenty of legal drama, clamoring press, and hate mail. Can this story have a happy ending? And, if so, how will it all come about? Meanwhile, many characters fill the pages, as the two worlds of New Zealand and England come together in the long journey toward the final denouement.
As a retired social worker, I am all too familiar with the challenges presented in the child protection system, and thoroughly understand the frustrations faced by the social worker in this story. While I would not have done what she did, I can certainly understand the driving force behind her actions. A five star read.