Blurb from the back of the book;
Mysterious and inviting, Jessie and Margaret are drawn to their reclusive neighbour’s house. It offers an escape from the dreary summer of 1977 and their fragile family life, into a world they can only dream about. When the house suddenly burns down at the same time as their mother moves out to live with her new boyfriend, and their father develops an unhealthy crush on a woman in their street, life seems bleak for the girls.
Escaping the claustrophobia of family life isn’t easy, until the story of an eccentric and beauthiful female explorer form the 1930’s unfolds in a series of letters. In these letters she tells stories of far flung places, secrets, doomed love and adventure.
What a delightful book to read! The author gets into the skin of Jessie a young teenager and writes the story wholly from her point of view. Growing up in the 1970’s Jessie and her younger sister Margaret are thrown in to the turmoil of separating parents. Alongside is the story of a neighbour Edith whom the girls get to know briefly before she dies in a house fire.
Since the author so masterfully writes from a child’s point of view, the reader is able to experience the rollercoaster of emotions that can devour you at Jessie’s tender age. The toe curling embarrassment of your parent’s behaviour, the love and hatred of friends and relatives and the dull familiarity of routine at home. Jessie muddles through this disruptive time looking for support from her sister who is suffering her own private turmoil. Interspersed with the sisters’ plight is the poignant story of Edith told by personal letters.
This book is well crafted. The story develops slowly and engrosses the reader to the point where you really care what happens to all of the main characters. I would definitely look for more to read by this writer.