After the death of her wife, Shelby is suffering from prolonged grief. Then, in a support group, she meets Cammie, who gives her permission to express her most hopeless, hideous feelings. Cammie is charismatic and unlike anyone Shelby has ever met. She's also recovering from cancer and going through several other calamities. Shelby puts all her energy into helping Cammie thrive—until her intuition tells her that something isn't right.
Whittall does an excellent job of showing all that is appealing about Cammie while also revealing her duplicitousness. The novel raises the question of whether Cammie, even with her morally bereft antics, might still be a positive influence in the lives of the people she meets and deceives. The author also manages to draw quirky, memorable characters who are deeply flawed and still compelling. With accessible prose, insight into human nature, a slow build of suspense, and a fresh look at how we handle difficult events, Whittall has created a real winner.
The somewhat predictable narrative echoes TV shows like Inventing Anna and The Tinder Swindler, though there are deeper thrills in witnessing those in Cammie’s orbit untangle their self-delusions. There aren’t many surprises, but Whittall brings plenty of verve to the proceedings.