I loved Morton’s book, The Forgotten Garden, and though I missed out on the book in between that and this newest, when I saw she had a new book coming out I put it on hold. Not even knowing what it was about! Just opening the book and looking at the endpapers gave me a shiver of delightful anticipation-an attic of old trunks and furs in sepia.What secrets will there be?
Like The Forgotten Garden this is a long story, told from a couple of different points of view in different time periods, which patch together to unfold and reveal a family’s secrets. It even also had Australia and a long ship journey in it to England, as I believe that one did. I thought this was wonderfully put together.
Laurel Nicholson’s mother, Dorothy, is elderly and dying. Laurel feels that before her mother dies she must know the truth about something she has not talked about ever-that as a teenager she saw Dorothy kill a man who came to their house. It was never spoken of, but Laurel must know what happened. Dorothy told the police he was a stranger who came after her, but Laurel, watching unseen from the treehouse, distinctly heard the man address her by name. Why did she lie about knowing him? Laurel attempts to draw the story out of her mother, but can only get bits and pieces. They lead her to research and she is able to start piecing some things together. Meanwhile, you, the reader, get to read the story of Dorothy and Vivien and Jimmy, young people in London during WWII. We see what Dorothy’s early life was like, how she made her way to London and fell in love with Jimmy. I really liked the way the story was not told in a linear fashion at all. It was like each section of the story, told at a different time or from a different character’s p.o.v., was a puzzle piece, and it was not until the end that they all fit together. And when they do? What a marvelous payoff.
Besides being a a great mystery about family secrets, I thought this was a wonderful story about WWII and living in London and trying to start your adult life during the war. There was so much tenderness between the parents and children, at various stages of life-Jimmy caring for his dotty old dad, Laurel caring for her dying mother, Dorothy as a young mother caring for Laurel. I thought this was beautifully written and really enjoyed every part of this story. It’s definitely a long and engrossing one-I admit I stopped right in the middle for two days to read Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore.