Back in England Helen is haunted by remorse and guilt. She is drawn to Carla’s friends, children and above all, to Daniel, the man Carla loved. But when a figure from her island nightmare arrives, he brings with him questions only Helen can answer. Can she trust her own judgement? Will she ever learn the truth about Carla?
‘A chiller of a thriller about real women … beautifully crafted, subtle and good.’
‘A darkly gripping psychological tale that cannot fail to hook. A haunting and completely credible tale. I thoroughly recommend it.’
‘This book was partly inspired by the island of Corfu. Although I didn’t visit it until a few years ago, I had heard about it all my life from my mother, who lived there before the war with her first husband, Lawrence Durrell.’
Improvising Carla was televised in 2003 in a production by RDF, starring Leslie Sharp as Helen and Helen McCrory as Carla, with Iain Glenn as Carla’s grieving husband Daniel – three terrific actors. The screenplay was by Barbara Machin, and the director was Diarmuid Lawrence. The first half of the film, the part on the island, was pretty faithful to the novel, though the two women were about ten years older than I had imagined them, which changed the dynamic quite a bit. The second half was quite unlike the book – it’s impossible for me to judge if that made it better or worse, but it was certainly different!
I went and watched them filming on Clapham Common, almost at the end of the process: walking from the tube station across the common, seeing all those trucks and buses and people running around with equipment and walkie talkies and thinking that all that sprang from my solitary imaginings, was a strange and unforgettable experience.
One reviewer described it as ‘an enjoyable one off’, another said that ‘plot twists and turns keep viewers guessing right up to the climax’ and a third said, ‘a cracking plot deftly realised by a trio of fine actors’.