E.I. Fletcher’s new novel reveals the upheaval that stems from an inherited property.
Painter Margarite van Breda, Welsh by birth, now lives in Cape Town with her husband, Peter, a retired accountant. Already forced to economize, they are further inconvenienced by a mysterious lack of income from the Welsh estate Margarite owns jointly with her four siblings (inherited from their stepfather). Margarite’s two older siblings, Robert and Caroline, manage the estate, keeping her mostly in the dark about it.
When Garth Thomson, the godson of a friend from Margarite’s homeland, comes to Cape Town on business, he brings her news of shady dealings involving her property. Margarite hires a lawyer to investigate. She also finds herself drawn to the attractive Garth. As she pursues an affair with him, she discovers that Peter has been keeping a secret of his own.
Margarite’s story, set in Cape Town in 2012, is interwoven with scenes set in Wales in the 1990s and 2012. These chapters focus on her sister Caroline; Caroline’s husband, Gerald; and their estate agent, Huw, and offer Caroline’s perspective on her dealings with the property.
Inheritances and extramarital affairs are perennially juicy topics. Flawed Legacy, however, never quite achieves appropriate pacing and tone. Although punctuated by moments of high drama, the story feels anticlimactic, particularly the aspects involving the property dispute. The Welsh scenes add little to the story, while requiring readers to track an extra group of supporting characters.
Fletcher’s descriptions can be evocative, often lovely (“The sun had burned through a dense morning mist and drops of dew clung to delicate spider webs on the cropped grass…,” but they are usually buried in exhausting run-on sentences. Frequent digressions in dialogue also distract. (A mention of Caroline’s visit to Rome derails the story for a full page with discussions about the state of the Sistine Chapel’s frescoes and so on.)
For such reasons, Flawed Legacy is unlikely to satisfy readers, despite some promising material.