You might think this is yet another novel set in England during World War 11 and read no further. But don’t be fooled. This is a tale like no other I’ve read before, full of humour with an odd and dubious list of characters.
Ten-year-old Noel lives with his aging godmother until she dies, when he’s sent as an evacuee outside of London. There he’s paired with Vee, a single mother who is struggling to keep a roof over her head for herself, her helpless mother, and useless son, Donald. Nineteen-year-old Donald has a heart condition and can’t join up, but soon discovers an illegal way to make large sums of cash that he doesn’t share with his mother. Vee keeps failing at schemes to make money until she realizes that Noel isn’t the empty headed child she though he was. This well written novel is full of tongue-in-cheek laughs.
I remember Mary as the Bennett sister who couldn’t sing, but twenty years on from the end of Austin’s Pride and Prejudice, Mary’s life continues. In her desperation for independence, she investigates the plight of the English poor only to find herself in danger.
I wasn’t expecting this to be an engaging tale, but I should have known better because this Australian author has never disappointed me—a book I couldn’t put down when I needed a light read.
When Billy disappears and Avery admits to killing six other children, everyone assumes he also killed Billy. His mother, standing by the window overlooking the Moors, is the only one convinced Billy is still alive.
Meanwhile, her grandson, Steven searches with his friend Lewis over the Moors looking for a possible grave, but all he finds is the bones of a sheep. What strategy can he use next to discover Billy’s whereabouts so his grandmother can find closure?
Motherless Esme hides under a desk in the Scriptorium where her father works surrounded by words. He is one of the lexicographers working on words to include in the first Oxford English Dictionary. When careless lexicographers drop chits, Esme collects the words and their meanings written on pieces of paper and hides them in a trunk. As the years pass, she comes to realize that many words are excluded because the lexicographers believe words for the dictionary should have written examples. So begins Esme’s personal research, collecting excluded words—words of profanity, words commonly used only by women but not men—words she hears in the markets. But what will she do with her collection and how will her life change once she begins working in the Scriptorium? A fascinating tale inspired by the lexicographers who actually worked on producing the first English dictionary back in the late 1800s.