A Book for Patricia Wentworth Day: Run! (1938)

Patricia Wentworth was a wonderful spinner of stories, and in this book she spins a story of high drama and romantic suspense with a cast of quintessentially English ‘Bright Young Things’.

It’s a confection – no more and no less!

The opening was wonderfully attention-grabbing.

Our hero, James, worked for a high class London car dealership, and he was fetching a new car for an important customer. Thick fog descended as he was driving through unfamiliar country, and it wasn’t long before he had to admit that he was lost. He caught a glimpse of a big house, and so he set off to ask for help.

He didn’t find help, but he did find trouble.

There were no lights on, there was no sign of life, but the front door was ajar. James went in, hoping to find a telephone, but seeing only a girl whose face is white, whose eyes are wide with horror, and who looks as if she is about to scream. She doesn’t, but she yells ‘RUN!’ and before he as time to react he hears sound of a shot and he feels the breeze as a bullet flies past him. James doesn’t need telling twice. He runs, and between them he and the charming but scatty girl manage make their escape.

Back at work in London he ponders on the puzzle of a girl who was clearly terrified, but completely unwilling to explain any part of the reason why to the young man who helped her. He is still thinking when he bumps into her again, and discovers that he went to school with her brother and that they have enough friends in common to make it surprising that they had never met before; though that isn’t enough to make her tell him any more or to stop her from insisting that it is better for him not to know and that he should stay away from her.

Sally has good reason to be scared, and for speaking and acting as she does, because she is an heiress, someone is after her inheritance and willing to go to any lengths to get their hands on it, and she fears that even her beloved guardian is involved. James won’t be told though, because he is very taken with Sally and because, when one of his colleagues has what looks like a nasty accident, he realizes that whoever fired that gun is trying to get him out of the way too.

There is much intrigue – and a good dash of romance – before a grand finale back at the country house where the story began.

There were moments in the early part of the story, when James didn’t know what was going on and Sally wasn’t going to tell him, when I wished that Miss Silver would put in an appearance. She would have had no trouble working out what was going on and sorting everything out, but of course that would have made this a very short book and it wasn’t long at all before I felt very fond of both James and Sally.

The perspective with James as the protagonist who was concerned about Sally was interesting, particularly when I had figured out what was going; but I think that Patricia Wentworth does best with female protagonists, and while he was eminently likeable he wasn’t as interesting as many of the young women I have met in her books.

(And that reminds me to say the young woman on the cover and what she is doing bear no relation at all to this story.)

I loved the young lady who worked at James’s car dealership, and I couldn’t help thinking that if Miss Silver ever wanted to hire an assistant they would work together rather well.

It wasn’t at all difficult to identify the villains and to understand their motives, and that made me realize what a terrible situation Sally was in and why it was quite reasonable for her to act what she did.

The building blocks of the story were all ones I’d come across before, but the structure that they built was sound. The story was entertaining, it was engaging, and it was suspenseful to the very end.

There was a certain amount of silliness and much that was a little too unlikely – especially towards the end of the story – but there was enough substance and enough intrigue to keep me turning the pages to the very end.

Patricia Wentworth wrote much better books –  of the books I’ve read, Danger Point/In the Balance is my favourite investigation with Miss Silver and Kingdom Lost is my favourite stand-alone story – but I did enjoy my time with this confection of romance and suspense.

A Book for Elspeth Huxley Day: Murder on Safari (1938)

Elspeth Huxley won her place in The Birthday Book of Underappreciated Lady Authors because she is very well remembered for one book but that she wrote a great deal more is often forgotten.

I remember watching a wonderful television adaptation of ‘The Flame Trees of Thika’, her memoir of her childhood in Africa, many years ago. I read and loved the book – which is still in print, thanks to Slightly Foxed – but I didn’t come across anything else she wrote and I didn’t think to look. It wasn’t very long ago that I learnes that she wrote more memoirs, she wrote more books about Africa, and she wrote three mysteries.

I had intended to read a memoir for this birthday celebration, but when I read about the recent death of another underappreciated lady author I remembered that I had picked up some green Penguins that came from her collection in my local second-hand book shop bookshop a while ago, and that one of them was by Elspeth Huxley.

Jessica Mann was a novelist, a journalist, a broadcaster and a great deal more. We were members of the same independent library, we were supporters of the local literary festival, and if I put together a second Birthday Book of Underappreciated Lady Authors there is every chance that her name will be on the list.

Now, back to the book.

Superintendent Vachell is a Canadian policeman who has settled East Africa. He is approached by a well-known hunter named Danny La Mere, who has been leading a safari funded by the wealthy Lady Baradale. Her ladyship has brought thirty thousand pounds’ worth of jewels on the trip, the cream of her collection has been stolen from the portable safe in her tent, and the circumstances suggest that the thief is somebody very close to her.

Posing as an extra guide, Vachell observes members of the party closely. There is Lord Baradale, a keen photographer and inventor; his flighty daughter from an earlier marriage, Cara, who has a fiancé but is involved with the Dutch second hunter; the aforementioned fiancé, Sir Gordon Catchpole, a London-based interior designer; a new maid whose background is shrouded in mystery; a chauffeur-mechanic who had been an actor and had a very high opinion of himself; and an aviatrix named Chris Davis, who is clearly based on Beryl Markham.

It’s an interesting cast of characters, but Vachell finds that he is long on suspects, short on clues, and is his lack of knowledge is hunting is leaving him in serious danger of blowing his cover.


There is a death that might have been passed off as a tragic accident, had there not been a policeman on hand to examine the scene. Vachell must reveal that he is an undercover policeman and begin a murder enquiry. Soon he is investigating two murders, the second even more ingenious, more likely to be taken as an accident that the first.

Elspeth Huxley told her story well, bringing her characters and the setting to life. It feels authentic.

I hate the idea of shooting wildlife for fun and for profit, so I appreciated that the descriptions were not gratuitous; and that the author made her protest by presenting her characters and their safari clear-sightedly, by simply shining a light on them to show how ridiculous it all was.

That does make the book feel dated, as does some of the language and some of the attitudes.

The mystery plot is very well constructed, and it plays fair. There are even ‘clue-finder’ footnotes in my book, guiding readers back to the points in the story where Vachell found his evidence. I hadn’t spotted the clues, but I saw that a good policeman would, and I understood how the case against the culprit had been built.

I did guess the identity of that culprit correctly; because the group of suspects was small and because the plot was well built but it was built on classic lines.

This book stands out not because it is innovative or inventive, but because the author has such depth of understanding of her setting and the distinctive possibilities that it presents for a murderer.

That makes it a distinctive and very readable piece of crime fiction.

The End of my Pilgrimage with Miriam Henderson

The twelfth of the thirteen volume series of novels that Dorothy Richardson titled ‘Pilgrimage’ was the first not to be published as a single volume. It made its first appearance in the first 4-volume edition that was published in 1938, and it opens at a point in the life of Miriam Henderson when she has finally stopped thinking about changing her life and actually done something. She has left her job, she has left her lodgings, she has left London, but she has no firm plans for the future.

The opening chapter found her on visiting Chichester with her old friends, sisters Grace and Florence Broom. The writing was quite dense, I was a little worried that this might be the point where Dorothy Richardson became ‘difficult’, but I decided to take what understanding I could from this chapter and move on. I understood that while Miriam still had no love for the Anglican church she had become more tolerant and accepting of faith, I understood that she had not found her path but was confident that she would, and I understood that letting go of many things had made her happier and more relaxed than she had been for a long time; maybe ever.

pilgrimageknopf1938That first chapter was opaque, but I found the rest of this book wonderfully readable.

It was Michael Shatov who found the right place for Miriam to settle for a while. He introduced her to the Roscorla family, who kept a farm at Dimple Hill and had a spare room they let to boarders. They accepted her in the belief that she was recovering from an emotional breakdown and needed to rest and recuperate.

Miriam loved the peace and beauty of the  countryside, she enjoyed watching the regular routines of farm life, and, most of all,  she was fascinated by the Roscorlas’ Quaker faith. All this was communicated in swathes of lovely, descriptive prose.

I could have happily read writing like this for such a long time. I share Miriam’s interest in Quakerism. I loved that Miriam’s hosts had a wonderfully Cornish name.

There were hints that she was writing, but no more than that. That’s still the way with Dorothy Richardson

The pictures of the Roscorla family are wonderfully clear.

Miriam is clearly smitten with Richard; she forms a friendship with his sister, Rachel Mary, and she grows to like their brother Alfred; but the mother of the three siblings never warms to her. She is disapproving when Miriam talks with a male visitor, and that reminds Miriam that she is not at home and that the ways of this family are not her ways.

Miriam has matured in many ways over the course of this series of books; but there are times when her social skills are as lacking as they were when she set out for Germany in the very first book. That’s understandable in a girl but rather less so in a grown woman who is a guest in someone else’s home.

It becomes clear that it is time for her to move on.

She returns to London for the wedding of Michael and Amabel; and then she accepts an invitation to visit a friend from Oberland.

And that is the end of this book.

20160106_193046It was the last book that Dorothy Richardson completed, but the beginnings of another book named ‘March Moonlight’ emerged when ‘Pilgrimage’ was reissued in 1967, ten years after the death of its author.

This final book is a patchwork, tacked together from pieces that suggest that there could have been more books if Dorothy Richardson been given a longer and less difficult life.

There is:

  • The overseas trip set up at the end of the last book, where Miriam is entangled in complex relationships with a number of people who I am sure haven’t been mentioned before and I don’t feel I have been properly introduced to.
  • A visit to her sister Sally’s suburban home. I had quite forgotten that Miriam had another sister, and I think she might have forgotten too, but she enjoys her visit and being part of family life for a while.
  • A visit to Michael and Amabel, who were struggling with the practical realities of married life. I was astonished when Miriam offered sensible advice and then retreated.
  • A return to Dimple Hill, where Miriam makes worse mistakes than she did before and there is a permanent parting of the ways.
  • A final return to London where Miriam finds new lodgings, meets old and new friends, and comes to realise that she has made her choice to be alone, to write, and to live on the little money she has. That’s not a firm conclusion, but it is an idea that emerges.

There is much incident but little character development.

But this final book is so clearly unfinished and unpolished; and maybe not a book at all but a collection of sketches and possibilities for books that would never be written.

One sentence on the last page caught my eye.

“Until the autumn of 2015”

I’m inclined to thank that is when this series of book should have ended; when the first volume of this series of books was published.

I wish that she had been given the time to get there, or that she had done things a little differently to get there quicker.

But she made her choices about how to live and how to write, for better or for worse.

Miriam Henderson has been infuriating at times but she has been utterly believable, and the portrayal of her consciousness has been like nothing else I have ever read.

I’ve run out of things to say about her but I shall miss her.

I plan to read more about Dorothy Richardson next year, because I want to understand her and her alter ego a little better.

Pray for the Wanderer by Kate O’Brien (1938)

‘Mary Lavelle’, Kate O’Brien’s third novel, the story of a young Irish governess who lost her heart to the married son of her Spanish employer, was banned in Ireland. The banning order – under the Censorship of Publications Act of 1929 – was granted swiftly after publication and was not revoked until 1967.

This book is said to be the author’s response to that act of censorship.

It tells the story of Matt Costello, who fought in Civil War only to leave Ireland, disillusioned when a peace treaty was brokered. He travelled to America, he found success as a novelist and a playwright, and then he settled in London. He loved his life. He went home, to the family farm in Mellick, for the first time in years, telling himself that he was going because it was time, but knowing at heart that he was retreating because his actress lover, who he wanted to marry, had chosen to stay with her husband.

His relationship with his elder brother, Will, a veteran of the Great War, had stood the test of time and separation and was happily resumed; Will’s wife, Una, was pleased to see that, and Matt was struck by how capably she managed her home and her young children; those children where very impressed with the uncle they had only ever heard about, while he enjoyed his role and played it well.

617bq50SK-L__SL500_Kate O’Brien wrote beautifully, and she made these characters, and others that she would introduce, live and breathe. I could hear their voices as they talked about all of the things that you would expect a family to talk about, and about their concerns for De Valera’s Ireland.

This is not a book with a great deal of plot; its interest comes from the Costello family, the people around them, and the time when they lived. I found much to appreciate, and I suspect that a reader closer to the history would find even more.

Matt was acutely aware of what wasn’t being said – or at least not said in his hearing. He knew that he was the subject of gossip, and that his lifestyle had been judged harshly and found wanting. And he was aware that even those who had congratulated him on his success knew little of his work, because his work was either censored or not accepted for publication in his home country.

That disappointed him; but he was aware that his family and their neighbours were happy and secure in their faith and their way of life, and he felt the lack of anything like that in his own life.

He was drawn to Una’s sister, Nell. She was bright, she was well educated, and she had travelled . But she had chosen to come home, to accept the values she had been raised with and the teaching of her faith, and to become a school teacher. And yet she had turned down the proposal of a young man who all her friends and family had tought she would marry.

Nell was a fascinating character, and I could happily have read a book that told her story.

Knowing that he had to make a decision about his future, and tempted by the comfort andcharm of family life, and by the beauty of his native land, Matt proposed to her. Her response, and the dialogue and the events that followed, we every bit as wonderful as I could hope.

This is a short novel and, aside from that final drama, a quiet story, but it speaks clearly and articulately of the conflict between art and faith, about the need to make and accept choices, without ever losing sight of the very human story that is being told.

I can’t say that it is Kate O’Brien’s best work, but she was such a good writer, and I am sorry that this book seems to have been out of print for quite some time.

I hadn’t heard of it when I spotted it in a Devon bookshop last summer, but I picked it up on the strength of the author’s name.

I’m very glad that I did, and that The 1938 Club inspired me to pick it up and read.

The Midas Touch by Margaret Kennedy (1938)

It seems such a long time since I read anything by Margaret Kennedy, and so I was delighted that when I perused my shelves looking for books for The 1938 Club I found that I had a copy of one of her lesser known books that was published in that very year.

I had almost forgotten quite how much her books had to offer: beautiful writing, elegantly drawn characters, interesting details, subtle allusions, and timeless themes that echo through the stories she told.

I remember reading somewhere that ‘The Midas Touch’ was her own favourite of the works. I can understand that and though I don’t consider it her best work – and if you haven’t read her before it isn’t the book to read first – but I was captivated.

The story begins as a young man named Evan Jones arrives in England for the first time. He had been born in China, the son of Welsh missionaries, and since they died he had travelled the world, living off his wits and his charm. Now he was coming home, to see the place that his parents had always called home, and he was very taken with what he saw. He had no money, he had nowhere to go, but fortune favoured him again and he prospered.

$(KGrHqIOKiYE3jt7pfM1BN+(PLH1Kg~~_12He had charmed Lydia Jekyll when they met on the way to London. She was the wife of an impoverished country gentleman, but she planned to stay with wealthier friends in London before she went home to her husband. While she was there, she and Evan met again.

Bessie Carter Blake was a medium. She had a gift, and when her solicitor husband died she used it to support her family; she could think of no other way to support her family. The trouble was that her very real gift wasn’t quite enough and that she had to exaggerate and invent too. That worried her, and it got her into trouble.

She was thrown out of the house of business tycoon Corris Morgan, when he found that his wife had been consulting her. It had been Ellie’s inheritance that had started him on the road to success, and that was why he had married her, but he had forgotten that a long time ago.

Bessie saw danger ahead for Corris Morgan, and even though he had dismissed her she knew that she had to warn him. He was impressed by her tenacity, and when something happened that made him believe her he kept her close.

And when Corris Morgan met Evan he saw his potential, he saw that they had something in common, and he offered him a very special job …..

When I write this all sounds a little flat, but Margaret Kennedy made these people live and breathe, and she filled their stories with just the right amount of colour and incident.

Her story raises many questions, about money, about power, and about class. She raises those questions very gently, leaving her readers space to think about them if they chose, or to simply enjoy spending time with her intriguing band of characters.

I loved watching Lydia visiting Anny, who used to be her maid. She hadn’t expected Anny to be quite so proud of her home, her husband and her new baby; and to have no nostalgia for the house where she used to live or the people she used to know.

I was startled at what happened to Corris on a trip to Scotland with the son who was such a disappointment to him.

And I was wonderfully entertained as I watched Evan introduce some new business practices at a struggling art gallery and turn it into a must-visit attraction.

It was Evan who was the star of this show – though Bessie Carter Blake gave him a run for his money – and the subject of this story’s most intriguing questions.

Did he really have ‘The Midas Touch’, or was the secret of his success a gift that been given the chance to blossom?

This is what Lydia thought:

“It came continually as a surprise to her how little he had read, how much he hated reading. Quotations or references to books meant nothing to him. Yet he was often surprisingly well informed. He thought a great deal and his ideas were not those of a man who has had no education. He questioned everybody he met, demanding from them a first hand account of their experience, knowledge and conclusions ….

And would love and the home that had never known win out over money and success?

I hoped that this gave me the answer:

“The unit of thought, sense and passion that had been Evan Jones disintegrated: his feet were the crushing of beech nuts, his eyes were the October sunlight spearing down through the branches, his ears the faint music of water over stones, his mind and heart were the stillness of the quiet afternoon. He was without desire and utterly contented.”

But I didn’t know.

Margaret Kennedy kept those and other questions in the air until the very end of the story.

The ending came as a surprise, even though Bessie Carter Blake had predicted it.

Well, she hadn’t seen all of the details!

I was a just a  little disappointed with the end of Lydia’s story, and that I didn’t have a little more time of with some of the characters.

I had a lovely time though.

I’m still thinking about some of those questions that were left up in the air, and I’m still wondering what else might have happened in this world that Margaret Kennedy created so cleverly and wrote about so well.

* * * * * * *

I am declaring 20th June 2016 to be Margaret Kennedy Day.

But the details will have to wait until next week, because this week Margery Sharp books are marching back into the world ….

Knock, Murderer, Knock! by Harriet Rutland (1938)

It’s lovely to be living in a golden age for reissued golden age crime fiction, but sometimes it’s tricky to decide which books to choose from so many lovely possibilities.

I found many reasons to pick up ‘Knock, Murderer, Knock!’ by Harriet Rutland, and it proved to be an excellent choice. It was a very well told story, and so many things were done so very well that I would have quite happily read on – and looked for the author’s other books – even if there hadn’t been a mystery to be solved.

The writing is witty and literate; the characters and the settings are acutely observed; the plot is very well managed; and the author balances an understanding of convention with a distinctive style of her own to make this country house murder mystery – set in a run-down spa resort – one of a kind.

The opening sentence is extraordinary:

“Mrs Napier walked slowly to the middle of the terrace, noted the oncoming car, looked around to make sure that she was fully observed, crossed her legs deliberately, and fell heavily on to the red gravel drive.”

The car drove around Mrs Napier and nobody went to her aid. She had a habit of staging accidents, and so her fellow residents just laughed and carried on with whatever they were doing. Eventually Nurse Hawkins came to the rescue, and was rewarded with a volley of abuse and allegations of assault.

Mrs Napier is just one of a wonderful gallery of characters.

There are two retired career soldiers, one a crossword addict and the other a  fanatical knitter; there’s a haughty aristocratic who lives in fear of her humble origins being uncovered; there’s a lady author of detective novels with a young son in tow; there’s another lady who is painfully prim and proper.

tnThere’s a middle-aged couple with two teenage daughters and a handsome young chauffeur in tow; there’s an imperious elderly lady who is waited on by her devoted maid; there’s a handsome young baronet.

And there is Miss Blake. She was young and pretty; she was friendly and she had a wonderfully sunny nature. Her wardrobe was modern and daring, her conversation was frank and open, and her sense of humour was risqué. It was no wonder that the men crowded round her and the women were infuriated by her.

I liked her, and I loved that she was reading one of my favourite books:

“The last book I saw you with was the one with the rude title,” said Mrs. Marston. “In All My Nakedness, I think it was called.”

“Without My Cloak,” corrected Miss Blake. “You wouldn’t call me naked just because I took off my coat, would you?”

“Yes, I should,” came a booming whisper from Mrs. Napier, who had apparently been asleep through the rest of the conversation. “Some of the frocks she wears under that thing she calls a house-coat are no bigger than vests.”

(There are lots of lovely literary references like that scattered through this book.)

Watching all of these characters, following their relationships and their interactions was fascinating. They were all real, they were all believable, and through them the author spoke clearly of the prejudices, the narrow-mindedness, and the insecurities that made them what they were.

It was the morning after the weekly amateur talent night, when Miss Blake had been the star of the show as she stood in as piano accompanist for all the singers, that she was found dead. She was in the lounge, she was  dressed in her evening gown and a fine steel knitting needle sticking out of the base of her neck.

Inspector Palk arrived to investigate. He was a plain, ordinary and unremarkable detective, and that disappointed me a little at first, but I came to realise that he was the right kind of detective for this particular story.

He investigated methodically and he was quick to make an arrest.

But then there was a second murder. And a third.

I don’t want to say any more about specifics than that.

I’ll just say that Harriet Rutland managed her plot and her large cast of characters very well. There were lots of lovely details, there were lots of different aspects to the story, and my thoughts were pulled in all kinds of directions.

I really wasn’t sure who the murderer was until the grand denouement.

I’m sure that the author played fair, I’m sure the clues were there, but I was caught in the moment from start to finish.

I loved the mixture of murder mystery, black comedy, and human drama; had Agatha Christie, Muriel Spark and G B Stern sat down to write a book together, it might have turned out something like this.

I’m sorry that Harriet Rutland only wrote two more books; but I’m delighted that Dean Street Press has them back in print, and I’m looking forward to reading them.

Manja by Anna Gmeyer (1938)

The story could be set in any times and in many places.

Five children are conceived on the same night, born within days of each other at the same hospital. Their backgrounds are very different, but there are links between their families and they form friendships. It is only with the passage of time that they realise what their parents have always known; that the world will look at them and treat them differently.

This particular story resonates, speaks so profoundly; and that comes from its setting and from its author.

Those five children were born in Germany in 1920. The war was over, there were hopes for a new Germany, but the stringent conditions of Treaty of Versailles that had been signed the previous year would be a heavy burden. The country struggled, but in time a charismatic leader emerged, at the head of a new party offering a path to national pride and a brighter future. His name was Adolf Hitler.

This book, published in 1938, follows the lives of those five children until 1933, when they are twelve years-old. By then the Nazi party was in power, Hitler was Germany’s Chancellor, and the Reichstag Fire Decree had become law, stripping many German citizens of their civil liberties.

Many, fearing for their own futures, fearing that their government would go even further, sought exile abroad.

Anna Gmeyner, Austrian-Jewish by birth, was one of those exiles, and she wrote this book in London. She knew of course that she was writing of a terrible time, but she could not know – though she might suspect – how very, very terrible things would become, for the families of those five children, and for so many other families in Germany and across Europe.

Her book offers a clear, vivid and detailed view of the lives of five disparate families. Each scene is painted clearly and starkly, and, though the narrative those scenes must carry is complex, the author’s clear-sightedness and the skills she deployed to bring each scene to life, meant that I always understood what was significant.

And, though this is always a very human story, social changes are so clearly illuminated. The earlier chapters show the consequences of the War and the Peace, on those who fought and lost, and on those who lived through it. The latter chapters show how that leads to the rise of the Nazi party, and to the appalling shift in society that followed.


Manja, who gives this story its title, is the only girl of the five children, the daughter of a Polish immigrant whose life was thrown off course when her lover killed himself, and who would always struggle with what she had to do to survive and to be a mother to her children.

The four boys have very different backgrounds. Heini is a son of a doctor, who has fine ideals and will always stand by his principles; Franz is the son of a man who will become a Nazi; Karl is the son of a Marxist factory worker; and Harry is the son of a rich industrialist who believes his philanthropy may protect him from his part Jewish heritage. It won’t.

It would be fair to say that their four families represent different sides of society, but the reality of each character and situation, and the naturalness of the links between the different families are such that it never feels didactic.

…. Heini’s father, was the doctor, who cared for both Manja’s and Harry’s mothers after they gave birth; Franz’s father was employed – and dismissed – by Harry’s father; and he endowed Heini’s father’s hospital. And then there were families who lived in the same building; there were children who met at school …..

It feels real, and it feels right that these families stand for so many others.

The children meet each Wednesday and Saturday – at the wall – which is all that remains of a house that once stood above a river. It is there that Manja shows the boys the constellation of Cassiopeia – five stars that they see as symbolic of the ties of friendship between them. As they grow they will come to understand the differences between their families and the tension that brings, but none of that will stop them from being friends.

As the story advances though the changes wrought by the Nazi party have dreadful repercussions for so many. It is terrifyingly, heart-breakingly real.

Manja is vulnerable, the result of her sex, her race, her family situation. I feared for her as I saw the chain of events that led to an and that was both inevitable and tragic.

That, and the whole story was profoundly moving; and the knowledge of what was still to come when this story ended made it still more so.

The author’s first hand experience of Germany during the time she writes about makes her story so vivid, and that she left the country before she began to write leaves me in no doubt that it is honest and authentic.

She told her story so well, using all the skills she must have learned as a dramatist to bring her five families and that Germany that they lived in to life, and in engaging and involving her readers.

I hope – and I have to believe – that she did what she set out to do.

And I am grateful that her book has a place in the Persephone Books list.

* * * * * * *