It has waited 7 years in the TBR – long enough I heard myself say during my recent #tbr20 challenge.

And so my reading trail led me back to Edinburgh where Lizzie Fairbairn is living alone with only her beloved pooch and her memories for company. She’s waiting. For what, precisely? That could be subject to interpretation and I’ll mention my theory later. In the meantime, Lizzie’s quiet contentment with her lot is about to be disturbed when Rachel, the granddaughter of Lizzie’s former best friend, Marlene, arrives at her door. Rachel doesn’t say what she wants and Lizzie is highly suspicious …

She also appears to be very defensive. While Rachel’s motives are unclear and some of her actions highly dubious as she inveigles her way into the old lady’s life, Lizzie’s memories of her friendship with Marlene suggest secrets that she would like to keep that way. Lizzie’s mum always thought that Marlene was a bad influence, and so it proved to be. Marlene was always the pretty, slim one, and the one that led Lizzie into high jinxing escapades that landed the two of them in a spot of bother now and again. Nothing too serious, but nevertheless, there is a sense that Marlene’s marriage was a lucky escape for Lizzie, even though it turned out not to be so good for Marlene.

Lizzie’s marriage to a widower with three children was, by her own admission, a case of both settling for someone suitable. While no love match, it was stable, although the biggest source of argument was – you’ve guessed it – Marlene, whose circumstances deteriorated over the years and who turned increasingly to Lizzie for help. There comes a time when … No, this is the memory Lizzie has suppressed because her guilt persists. She is ashamed to tell Rachel the story, afeared of her judgement.

All I can say is that I didn’t judge her at all, even though the consequences were huge.

I’m more censorious of the book’s blurb, which makes Claire’s novel sound more of a thriller than it is. True, some folk behave rather badly, but murder? I found The Waiting woven from far subtler threads. Filled with authentic historical detail from 1930s Edinburgh through to contemporary times, engaging human frailty and drama, the fine writing of an award-winning poet, a doggy tale to melt your heart, and an old lady waiting … for the forgiveness she cannot grant herself.