Ostensibly a YA novel this Old Adult enjoyed it immensely. Inspired by real events it’s a slim volume that I read in one sitting. I read The Red Ribbon a while back and was keen to explore this latest offering from Ms. Adlington. Like the former book the Holocaust is not far way, so important to keep younger readers informed about one of the worst atrocities in our past history. But here the war is over and Brigitta is a child refugee relocating to England from a war ravaged Europe.
It’s clear that Brigitta has a past and some secrets that gradually unfold throughout the story into a glorious climax that I truly didn’t see coming. It was jaw dropping moment. It’s a war story and a big house story. It’s a tale of identity and what it means. It’s also a love story on a number of levels.
Prejudice is dealt with from perspectives of ethnicity, colour, religion and sexuality some, quite subtly done. The book captures that cusp of wartime and peace effectively as people try to return to ‘normality’ . I would suggest that much research has gone into this story yet the narrative does not present as ‘text book prose’ it has a fresh modern feel to it which should resonate with younger readers. It’s not an easy thing to pitch historical fiction at just the right level to capture a younger audience who might have difficulty relating to a past they can’t comprehend. Lucy Adlington does this very well as she tunes into parallel interests between todays youngsters and their historical counterparts. In the Red Ribbon the fashion allusions were pertinent to todays’ kids and in this book the interest in cinema and music is exploited. although of a much different era and style.
The book has an effortless, flowing style and the narrative moves purposefully along drawing its readers with it. The characters are accessible and we relate easily to Brigitta. The adults in the book are contrasts - Sophie Rover and Lady Summer are two examples. There’s plenty of younger characters as there should be in a YA book. It’s well balanced. Although not blatantly a holocaust story, it will go on my shelf with my other holocaust themed books.
My thanks to Readers First for a copy of this book.