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A young girl Rita described as, "wrapped in tissue paper all her life", lives with two Aunts, with frequent visits from her, "Uncle". Those that have raised her live lives so bereft of anything worth mentioning, that their nurturing of this child into a young woman cannot produce a practically educated woman, much less a confident individual who is worldly wise. When Rita decides to step out with her peers to engage with young men, the participation from the mentioned relatives ranges from too little too late, to reprehensibly cruel.
The Uncle who is a butcher cannot abide blood when an assistant cuts himself. One Aunt has created a museum of her Mother's furniture and knickknacks inclusive of a severe portrait of the deceased that overlooks this memorial. While this could be called eccentric, the author elevates and darkens the obsession exponentially.
Nothing is positive in this view of World War II England. Even the American Soldiers are described as having but 3 faults; they are overpaid, oversexed, and over here. Even the cat that haunts this house has a name that is unprintable here, however the moniker is consistent with commentary on Catholics, Mongrel Americans, and others ad nauseum.
Ms. Bainbridge writes wonderful work that really needs to be read to the final page. She does not tip her hand, the ending is only predictable as the pages left become fewer, and only when she is ready does she deliver her sometimes-dramatic conclusion. In this event it is a bit like a hammer between the eyes.
woman all in black, but when he climbed into the car it was Rita. When they returned to Bingley Road, Nellie was angry with him. ‘You shouldn’t have,’ she said, ‘not in front of the child, you shouldn’t have,’ taking the little girl in her arms and rocking her. ‘I want my Auntie Margo,’ wailed the child, running to the door and not tall enough to turn the latch. There was nothing for it but to sit in the best front room with the chair turned to the window, the lace curtains hitched up, so that
her head and stared into the van without expression. ‘It’s your heart,’ he told Nellie, over and over, for he wanted to reassure her that it wasn’t a road accident or a nightmare or something she couldn’t understand. He gritted his teeth and prayed for Rita to hurry up. Marge was still swooping up and down the fence, like some gull crying in the wind. Nellie was conscious now, a little more composed. Struggling to sit up, she tried to ram her hat more securely on to her head. ‘Look at your
indeed … ‘A very funny as well as a frightening book’ Guardian ‘Marvellously deft … comedy is secreted everywhere, like honey; but it is a surreal little honeycomb, with sharp teeth’ Times Literary Supplement ‘Well plotted and often very funny’ Sunday Times Abacus 978–0–349–11609–9
rouge and powder, saying she was thinking of popping along to the Manders’ to keep the child company. And Nellie would say she was pushing herself, and they would start to argue, until turning to her they would remind each other of the time, telling her she must hurry, comb her hair, change her frock. ‘Don’t you want to look nice?’ cried Nellie. But Rita wouldn’t discuss it any further. She went upstairs on her own to bed, leaving them muttering by the fire. 2 Jack came promptly at
rhythm of it, in her element. As long as he could remember, Nellie had played the machine, for that’s how he thought of it. Like the great organ at the Palladium cinema before the war, rising up out of the floor and the organist with his head bowed, riddled with coloured lights, swaying on his seat in time to the opening number. Nellie sat down with just such a flourish, almost as if she expected a storm of applause to break out behind her back. And it was her instrument, the black Singer with