Dear Reader: a letter from Andrea Mara
All Her Fault is about Marissa, a mother who turns up to collect her son from a playdate. She’s surprised when a woman she doesn’t recognise answers the door, and wonders if perhaps she’s the nanny. But the woman has never heard of Milo, Marissa’s son.
There is no playdate.
Marissa wonders if she got the address wrong, and checks her text. But no, she’s in the right place, at least according to the message she was sent, arranging the playdate. She tries to ring the number, but the phone is out of service. That’s when panic sets in – who arranged the playdate, and were is her son?
The book is about Milo’s disappearance – who took him and why – but it’s also about the four women in the story – Marissa, the friend, the nanny, her mother – all of whom are blamed in various ways for what happened. Some justifiably, some not. I’m fascinated by how quickly we seek to blame when something goes wrong; looking for mistakes so that we know the ‘bad thing’ couldn’t happen to us, as long as we don’t make those same mistakes.
It’s also about trust – the everyday trust parents place in those who look after their children. It would be difficult to raise children without any help at all, paid or otherwise, but if we thought too deeply about what could go wrong, we might never leave the house again!
All Her Fault was inspired by a real-life event that took place some years ago: my daughter, who was five at the time, was on a playdate one Friday afternoon; her first visit to this particular friend. I turned up to collect her, but when I rang the doorbell, nobody answered. All sorts of terrible thoughts rushed through my head – was it some kind of elaborate kidnap scheme? How well did I really know the parents? Not at all, when I thought about it – I’d met the mother at a coffee morning and I’d never met the dad at all.
Then a neighbour poked her head out of a window next-door and told me that there was nobody living in the house. I felt sick – where was my daughter?
The panic only lasted seconds – the neighbour went on to explain that the family had moved some weeks earlier, and were living not too far away. I was using an old class address-list, and hadn’t thought to check if the details were still valid. It all ended well very quickly – I hope you enjoy finding out how it ends for Marissa in All Her Fault!