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Summary

Alice Lang was wearing her favourite scarlet dress when she disappeared 25 years ago, and her memory still casts a long shadow.

The past was like water. Once the tide turned, you couldn't hold it back.

In the long, hot summer of 1995, 22-year-old Alice Lang rents a caravan on a holiday park on the outskirts of the lively holiday resort of Severn Sands. She befriends Marnie, a shy, damaged little girl whose father is the park's caretaker and whose mother died a few months earlier. Will, whose mother runs the bar, falls in love with Alice and is unbearably jealous of anyone else she sees. Tensions rise until one evening Alice disappears from her caravan. She's never seen again, and only her scarlet dress is found washed up on the shore.

A quarter of a century later, the town is run-down, and nobody comes there anymore. Mr and Mrs deVillars, former owners of the holiday park, have passed the failing business onto their son, Guy, who promptly sells the land for development. Builders clearing the land to create an expanse of executive homes uncover human bones. It has to be Alice.

Will and Marnie’s lives were entirely shaped by what happened that summer, and now that Alice has been found, they must struggle to pin down their memories, to escape the secrets of the past, the lies they told and the unbearable guilt they're both carrying.

They need to find out what happened to Alice. Who killed her? And why?

©2021 Louise Douglas (P)2021 Boldwood Books

What listeners say about The Scarlet Dress

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Really S*L*O*W 😴

It never really got started 😜 I fell asleep several times while listening to this. I didn't care about any of the characters and had the ending sussed in the first half hour

4 people found this helpful

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A totally engrossing listen

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The death of a young woman is not an easy subject but is told with Douglas's usual warmth and deeply underpinning affection for human beings in all their flaws and peculiarities. Rich and poor, privileged and impoverished, her characters are never stereotyped by their situations but fleshed out, fully-rounded individuals. Douglas's main characters don't tend to lead glamorous lives but are brought alive by their individual passions and convictions. The two main characters in this novel - the silent woman who has lived on the edges of society and the self-centred, immature journalist who wants to.blame everyone but himself, demand our interest and empathy, even when their behaviour saddens or maddens the reader.

There are no happy endings in any of Douglas's books but satisfying outcomes which begin to repar the past damages which have shaped the communities and individuals she writes about.

Douglas writes with great skill about landscapes and her careful observation of nature and concern for animals shines through this book. i was intrigued by her informative and endearing descriptions of dog training.

4 people found this helpful

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A compelling and complicated story.

This is a captivating listen. It flows with ease, winding its way through many twists and turns leaving the reader guessing at conclusions which are mostly red herrings. The characters are richly drawn and their interactions beautifully crafted and diverse. Very much enjoyed the audible. Well worth buying.

3 people found this helpful

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Wonderful compelling couldn’t stop listening!

Loved this story there was such depth to Marnie Will Alice and the other characters as well as the atmosphere with her cottage and the estuary - didn’t want the book to end, well done!

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Took a while to get into

Took a while to get into, but it’s worth staying.
Spoilt slightly by the narrator! Sometimes Imogen Church spoils the moment by giving what someone says the complete wrong emphasis. Particularly when she makes someone speak almost amusingly, comically, and a bit silly at a serious moment. It’s a shame that she does that.

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Great story

An unusual story, production slightly marred by an unusual reading style and mispronunciation of a characters name. However the story is gripping and you can’t help but continue to listen.

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  • Jennifer
  • 28-02-21

Obvious and Tedious Characters

If it weren’t for the wonderful reading of Imogen Church, I probably would’ve returned this book.

I solved the crime at two hours in. It was pretty obvious and so the remaining hours of this book became pretty excruciating. All the characters seemed to be in a state of arrested development. There was not much to endear them to me.

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  • DebbieDD
  • 11-07-21

A little bit long

I think it just has to be Ms Douglas' writing style there are times when she could have edited out 5 or 6 pages and still made her point. She also uses words, and phrases that are pretentious, what does ozone even smell like, and how did it make a difference to the plot. The story is good and I didn't guess who did it till the end but 70+ chapters come on.

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  • Christel Thomas
  • 16-05-21

Well worth a credit

As always, Louise Douglas writes a beautifully descriptive story filled with interesting characters, dual timelines, and a fascinating coastal town in the UK...
I like this book a lot. I enjoyed the characters immensely and the story was interesting and held my attention.
Having said that, if you are checking out Louise Douglas for the first time, I would not start with this book. Rather, “In Her Shadow” is a much better representation of her best writing and storytelling.
As usual the illustrious Imogen Church knocks it out of the park. She is a star and a master of her craft. There is no better female narrator than her, I could literally listen to her recite a phone book and probably be lulled to sleep.
Bottom line, good book but not her best. It is still well worth a read...