Reading a novella like this is like watching a great little movie late at night. It was a couple of hours of intense reading and mystery with characters that are immediately interesting and somehow lost in life's tougher tragedies, a terribly abusive husband (the murderer), a stillborn birth that almost destroys a distraught mother, accidents waiting to happen to young curious children on a large estate where there is a lake and leaky boats. It all happens in an old and almost abandoned and yet manicured estate in France. It reminded me of the setting for horror shows from my youth where there are boogeymen hiding in the shadows. The elderly mother is in a wheel chair and is formally caring for her middle aged children who have come to recuperate from their recent tragedies and yet she isn't really emotionally available to them, somewhat mystified by their immature and stupid lives. The main character, "the woman" seems like she is dying and trying to get her children set up with their inheritances and perhaps even to recruit her brother to become their parents since her life is basically over.
The crazy and perhaps most terrifying element of the story is that the mother of the stillborn is literally hanging on to the dead baby and won't let it go to the point where the baby is going rancid and disintegrating. There is some kind of metaphor here for the state of the family, hanging on to something that has long since died.
And yet, by the end, there is a plan and redemption and we pretty much have a successful future course that will work for everyone.........and yet, do we and will it really work?
I love the novella. It's a great little escape into a very complex and yet believable world laid out very poetically.