When a beautiful young Australian woman named Ingrid inherits a large amount of money, she moves to New York and swiftly gets married. She leads what to many appears to be a charmed life. But Ingrid suddenly vanishes on September 11th, 2001, and it’s up to her old friends, Julia and Ralph, to discover the truth about her disappearance.
‘The Legacy’ is based on Henry James’ ‘Portrait of a Lady’, and I enjoyed spotting the many similarities between the two works.
The story is primarily narrated by Julia, who unfortunately, is the least interesting of the three protagonists. The short prologue, the only part of the story narrated by Ingrid, gave plenty of hints as to what to expect, and also lets the reader into the secret of the physical abuse in Ingrid’s marriage, which neither Julia nor Ralph know anything about.
The background of the friendship between the main characters is explored in careful detail, and so, whilst everything is not necessarily always easy between the three, the reader can really understand why Julia and Ralph aren’t able to rest until they discover the truth. However, I wasn’t able to form a bond with any of the main characters and it was perhaps because of this that the book felt a little laboured: I really didn’t care what had happened to Ingrid.
Ingrid is so beautiful and enigmatic that her friends are more than a little in awe of her. Of course, as Ingrid isn’t actually present for a large part of the book the author had a big challenge on her hands making sure that the reader gets enough of the heroine to understand the hold she has over her friends, and in particular why Ralph, who is quite clearly gay, falls in love with her. I’m not sure that this was quite achieved.
In terms of the actually quality of the writing, ‘The Legacy’ was a very accomplished work, particularly as its Kristen Tranter’s debut. I especially enjoyed the descriptions of the New York art scene. However, despite it being very well-written, the book was slow and very hard to get into. It takes nearly 200 pages to get to Ingrid’s disappearance, which was surely supposed to be the story’s focus. I found it impossible to connect with the characters, which spoilt the story for me, but I liked the connection with Henry James – this was original and very well done.