Heleen and Frank are a middle class Dutch couple who have been married for seventeen years. For this year's honeymoon, Frank has arranged for a Mediterranean cruise.
What the reader knows, but Heleen doesn't, is that Frank is planning to disappear into another life during this cruise.
One night during the idyllic cruise, Frank goes out for a walk around the ship while Heleen turns in for the night. When she wakes the next morning to find that he never returned, she raises the alarm and a search ensues, but he is not found.
Thus begins the most difficult year of Heleen's life. She first slowly adjusts to being a widow, and then begins to discover Frank's disturbing double life.
This is a story that really held my interest the whole way. Heleen starts out sheltered and naive, but she's smart, insightful, and has a fundamental toughness that comes out when life challenges her. Along the way, she meets an array of interesting characters, some of them figures from her husband's secret life and others helpful strangers who become friends. We also follow her through France and Spain, getting glimpses of life in different European cultures.
Vermeer also doesn't fall into the trap of portraying a world with few or no decent people in it, just because there are bad people who can do real harm.
All in all I truly enjoyed this book and will look forward to reading some of her other titles as well.
I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.