Sunday, 22 July 2018

The Girl in the Abbey

The Girl in the Abbey is set during the tumultuous period of World War 2.

Grimsby was an important British port and, as such, it was constantly under attack by Nazi bombers so many of the children of Grimsby were evacuated inland to places of safety.

Violet Cobb is one of the evacuees. Violet is a resourceful and brave young girl who finds herself waiting on the doorstep of Bramblington Abbey, far away from her hometown and her family and friends.

The Abbey is situated in a village called Bramblingham-in-Finalis, which is preternaturally quite and crumbling from age after age of neglect.

She meets Mr Whispers, who Violet thinks looks like a desiccated old stick who looks like a housekeeper from a scary film.

Mr Whispers makes it very clear that Violet must not enter the Abbey itself, nor is she to bother the surviving member of the family who own the abbey, Lady Ainsworth for fear of a terrible beating.

But later, Violet finds a girl who she can befriend. Her new friend is called Sarah and Sarah says that she is the granddaughter of the reclusive and mysterious owner of the Abbey.

Together the two girls explore the local area. Violet soon learns that whilst Bramblington Abbey might have its own secrets, the elderly and decaying abbey is not the only one with secrets that it might wish to keep to itself.

But eventually Violet does enter the old abbey and, amidst treasures she could only have ever seen in her dreams, she meets Lady Audrey Ainsworth. Who she finds a most engaging raconteur as she takes Violet on a impromptu guided tour of her country home.

And then secrets started to bubble out from the reason why Lady Audrey never leaves her family home to why Mrs Geddes uses paraffin in her cakes.

This is an amusing and moving novel that touches on a number of themes, including what happens on the homefront during a war, class differences, friendships and a good deal more.

It's published by the Book Guild at £7.99.   

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