Publisher: Muswell Press
Publication Date: 8th April 2018
If you’d have told me 18 months ago that I’d be regularly reading historical fiction I’d have laughed in your face. But I’m so glad my little mind has been expanded by some great historical tales. This book would have completely passed me by otherwise and that would have been a real shame.
So what’s it all about?
In 1920’s Nottingham we meet our protagonist the spirited Annie Lang. At a young age her mother dies leaving Annie, her brother Fred and her older sister Beatrice in the soul care of their father.
Not a man to be without a woman he takes Miss Higgs the harmonium player from their deeply religious Grandfathers Mission as his wife and the children’s new mother.
Right from the outset Annie doesn’t get along with her stern, controlling step-mother. Miss Higgs appears to enjoy wielding her power over the children and her husband too, with her pious, righteous ways.
Her position of harmonium player at the mission is filled by Mildred Blessing and Annie is a little besotted with her (and her fancy shoes). When Millie disappears one day along with more local girls, Annie is plunged into a life of confusion and loneliness.
Fast forward 6 years later and Annie is just returning from studying in France to find her brother Fred has been committed to a mental hospital in her absence suffering from nervous exhaustion. From this point onwards we follow young Annie unravelling the mystery of just where Millie Blessing disappeared to and what is going on behind closed doors at home.
I just loved the character of Annie, she’s tenacious and determined and a plucky heroine in her own right. She’s astute and definitely ahead of her time.
I also enjoyed the character of Miss Higgs, despite her obvious failings as a motherly figure. She had such hidden depths. Potentially a little misunderstood (although that could be more to do with my forgiving side!). I’d have loved to have known more about her.
The first half of this book for me was scene setting. Drip feeding little nuggets of information to pave the way for the second half of the book which really picked up a pace! Action packed and eventful, I was enthralled. There were a couple of heart in mouth moments, and who doesn’t love that feeling?
There’s a definite ‘girl power’ vibe towards the end of the story which again is ahead of its time. Empowering, beautifully written and so engaging.
This book would be perfect for anyone who enjoys a good family drama with a mystery to unravel.
Thank you to Anne Cater and Muswell Press for the opportunity to read and review this book.
See you soon.
Bookish Chat xxx
About the author:
Ros Franey grew up in the Midlands where this book is set. She is a maker of award-winning documentaries, including two films about the Guildford 4 which, along with the book she co-authored Timebomb, contributed to the quashing of their case. This is her second novel. She lives in Camden, North London.