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Annie Lang is a “fanciful child”. She tells it like it is, with much wisdom in her apparent naïveté and questioning of adults’ illogical rules, which doesn’t sit well with her strict religious upbringing. Following the untimely death of her mother, Annie’s worst fear comes to pass when her father marries their “old stick” punishment-wielding housekeeper. But some light shines in the form of Annie’s young Sunday School teacher, Millie Blessing, who arrives wearing beautiful blue high-heeled shoes and whose presence is a literal blessing to Annie. Then Millie vanishes, Annie goes to study in France, time moves on. But on her return, Annie is horrified to learn that her brother is in a mental hospital and, soon enough, ”unquiet ghosts from the past” are also raised.
As the narrative shifts between the present-day (1932) and Annie’s childhood recollections and diaries, the novel is driven by her dedication to solving the mystery of Millie Blessing. While Annie’s distinctive voice and scrapes spark many smiles, this engrossing child’s perspective on adult misdemeanors also lays bare the rottenness of religious hypocrisy and male abuse of power. What an un-put-down-able tale this is.
‘My story starts and ends at railway stations, though of course I can’t know this yet as I clamber off the boat-train at Victoria that warm May afternoon… ‘
Growing up in a strict religious family in the 1920s, Annie Lang is witness to disturbing events that no one will explain. Only the family dog may know the answers.
Six years on, student Annie returns from France to find her beloved brother in a mental hospital and her ally, the Sunday school teacher, vanished without trace. With the help of her childhood diary, and sister Beatrice, Annie turns detective to unearth the truth.
Her journey leads to a discovery so disturbing that she believes it will ruin all their lives, unless they can atone for the past.
Ros Franey beautifully captures that point when a child can sense, and indeed dissent against, secrets that adults think they are too young to grasp. Impulsive, brave and lovable, Annie Lang is formidable when she takes matters into her own hands.
Closing date: 01/03/2020
Publication date: 07/03/2019
Publisher: Muswell Press
|Publication date:||7th March 2019|
|Categories:||Classic fiction (pre c 1945), Historical fiction,|