This is a creepy, supernatural tale of a man who marries in haste to a mysterious woman he meets in Denmark, and after a tumultuous marriage in which the couple are beset by ghosts, otherworldly apparitions, and other troubles, all of which drive the mysterious woman to her death - but not before she reveals her terrible secret. Alan is independently wealthy, boarding school-educated, and living in comfortable shabbiness in London while engaging in his favorite hobby/"career", which is collecting and selling antique and modern pottery. When Alan travels to Copenhagen, Denmark, to sell a ceramic piece to a major gallery owner, Aleksei, he meets and falls in love with Aleksei's secretary, Karin. The infatuation is instant and strong. For less than two weeks, Alan courts Karin, taking her to dinners, exploring the city with her, and talking with her late into the night. They have everything in common, and she is the most beautiful woman he has ever seen, and the best he has ever had in bed. She can be very sensitive about art and music, but incredibly cold towards the pain and suffering of people and animals, a flaw that does not seen to register with Alan. Alan begs her to marry him as his trip draws to a close, and she accepts, but only if they have a non-religious wedding back in London, where they will live.
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Alan agrees, and they get married in London in a civil registration - surrounded by Alan's family and friends, but nobody at all from Denmark. Alan's family think Karin is weird and remark on her odd behavior, like her fear of crying children or her fear of the dark, or the fact that she appears to have no family, but Alan shrugs it off. One of Alan's American clients offers them his vacation house in Gainsville, Florida, for their honeymoon, and they accept. Karin continues to shy away from children, and while swimming in a river she insists that she sees a body under the water, though it's only a log.
They return to England and the marriage seems blissful and perfect, although Karin seems to hold back a secret and Alan's long-dormant psychic intuition is starting to tell him there is something wrong with her. Karin is one day thrilled to buy a ceramic figure of a girl on a swing at an auction, and after that the strange supernatural occurrences continue to happen in the house, such as the sound of a crying child, a body appearing in the water in the night, and so on. It's really creepy, and I regretted reading this at night. Simultaneously, Alan and Karin's sexual relationship becomes more intense and frequent and satisfying. Karin tells Alan that she is pregnant and says she wants to receive communion, but faints in the church. The supernatural manifestations get worse, until the couple are force to flee their home in the darkness and seek shelter in the church. Karin tearfully confesses to Alan that she killed her daughter in Copenhagen when Alan asked her to marry him, fearful that Alan would not have accepted her had he known she had a child. Alan is full of horror, knowing that Karin was reacting to a comment Alan made about how he could not stand the idea of having children out of wedlock, and Karin faints. He rushes her to the hospital but she dies during the night, and he breaks down in tears. When he returns home, he hears her ghost crying in the garden.
Best part of story, including ending:
The way this book built suspense was good - and also a little too scary for me.
Best scene in story:
When Karin and Allan get into a nerdy discussion about the distinctive style of Greek pottery during their courtship, it's fun and educational to read about and it clearly shows their chemistry and compatibility with each other.
Opinion about the main character:
I didn't like Alan's rigid ideas of morality but you can't help but also sympathize with him when you see he is socially awkward and not exposed to all the different kinds of people and lives in the world.