Reviews

  • "On Chapel Sands is much more than a search for truth. It is a moving, many-sided human story of great depth and tenderness, and a revelation of how art enriches life. In short, a masterpiece"

    Sunday Times
  • "Cumming skilfully withholds key twists in the tale, revealing them at just the right moment. There are surprises, but no shocks. Her prose is too elegant for such gaudiness – composed and restrained but empathetic"

    The Times
  • "Brilliant... This book is a love letter to her [Cumming's] mother, whose warmth, articulacy and survival instincts shine though. It's also an intimate portrait of a village community, with its storybook characters (butcher, baker, dairyman, bell-ringer, gravedigger) and their wonderful old-fashioned names"

    Guardian
  • "By turns beautiful, wistful, and ominous… the reasons behind the kidnap, and the repurcussions, are every bit as complex as any served up by fiction, and, oddly enough, the dénouement -- or succession of dénouements -- is just as satisfying, perhaps more so... a meditation on the way some people disappear, and time erases memory... so familiar as to be universal, and will probably ring bells with all but the sunniest reader (***** Five Stars)"

    Mail on Sunday
  • "A deeply felt, forensic yet ultimately empathetic examination of human motivation and its attendant sorrows, which is as much a social history of the early 20th century as it is the story of one family and its secrets… [Cumming's] intermeshing of art, time and memory is superlative… The repercussions are interrogated by Cumming with a hungry precision up to her last, revelatory pages"

    Daily Telegraph
  • "On Chapel Sands is a mystery solved through empathy and interpretation. It feels as if this is the book Cumming has been working towards, a deeply personal story but one that also draws on practised skills as a critic and a writer. It is perfectly balanced between the requirements of its narrative and the expression of its author's passions. It is a moving tribute from a daughter to her parents and grandparents. It is beautifully written"

    Spectator
  • "Unputdownable… this memoir-cum-detective story becomes a remarkable search for truth"

    Sunday Telegraph
  • "A fascinating, beautifully written feat of detective work, evoking bygone Britain during an era when so much was left unsaid"

    Daily Mail, *Book of the Week*
  • "A poetic blend of memoir and detective story… Cumming breathes new life into the form, with her art critic’s analysis of the family photographs which appear on many of the pages"

    Evening Standard
  • "Wonderful, haunting... a poetic study in half-lights and fragments... a moving meditation... It is intimate and yet, at a slant, draws in a larger web of moments beyond the limits of the frame"

    Literary Review

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