Back of the book :
Some houses have their secrets. But so do some people . . .
Abandoned as a baby in the hallway of a shared house in London, Marina has never known her parents, and the circumstances of her birth still remain a mystery.
Now an adult, Marina has returned to the house where it all started, determined to find out who she really is. But the walls of this house hold more than memories, and Marina’s reappearance hasn’t gone unnoticed by the other tenants.
Someone is watching Marina. Someone who knows the truth . . .
What I think :
Marina was abandoned as a tiny baby in the hallway of an old block of flats in Harrington Gardens.
Marina, who was named for the nurse that looked after her when she was found, wants to find out about herself and who her parents were and why they left her. It’s very important to her that she finds out just exactly what happened to make her birth mother abandon her like that.
So she returns to the old rundown block of flats in Harrington Gardens, but she doesn’t want anyone to know why she there and who she is because some of the residents remember when it happened …
Connie is very scared
Connie is only seventeen yet she feels very grown up right now, she thought she was loved by a man that she slept with but, sadly she wasn’t. He used her and now he has gone off to Paris to be an artist and Connie is left holding the baby, literally. She’s pregnant and alone and doesn’t know what to do. Her father would be devastated. There really is only one thing she can do …
With Marina looking for answers, soon the two era’s collide ….
The book is told over two timelines, 1990’s (Marina) and 1960’s (Connie) and is mainly set in the old run down block of flats in Harrington Gardens where marina was found.
Your heart really goes out to both the girls but I really did have a soft spot for Connie because I think that she had maybe the hardest time of it. She really thought she’d found someone to love and someone who loved her, but in the end she hadn’t and he ran off to Paris before she had a chance to tell him of her pregnancy. She then had all these difficult decisions to make on her own, not forgetting of course, that abortion was against the law still then.
Then in present day well, almost present day, the 1990’s we have Marina who is trying to find herself and where she came from.
The story does move quite slowly, it is quite a slow burner but that doesn’t detract from the fact that its an expertly written story with very believable and relatable characters.
This is a very sad, but sometimes very gripping story about love and loss. I would highly recommend this novel and give it 8/10 (5 Stars)
Published on 18/03/21 by Mantle books.
The biggest Thank you to Anne Cater at RandomThings Tours for the review copy of the book in return for an honest review.
Here for your reading pleasure is an extract from the book.
The house is still, like a crypt. Only the maple tree moves, branches swaying in the night breeze, leaves trem- bling and then brightening as a light in the top window flicks on.
Marina parks opposite and switches off the engine. Heart thudding, she opens the door and steps into the street. The midnight air whips her face. Her breath is wispy, like the remnants of a ghost. In the distance, traffic speeds along Streatham High Road. A siren wails.
She has been in Tooting Bec visiting an author whose manuscript she’s editing. Agata is Polish and is writing her memoirs, focusing on the Second World War. Setting off for the drive home to Wiltshire, Marina has taken a detour, speeding through the network of suburban streets, along past the common and into Harrington Gardens.
It’s an ordinary street in a nondescript part of London, with the air of a place battened down for winter. Hedges are scruffy, tendrils trail from the tops of hanging bas- kets. Rubbish nudges the lids of dustbins. On one path, a rusty pram stands discarded along with a broken cot. The houses are mostly semis but number 24 is different. Detached. It’s a double-fronted Victorian home with two gables topped with arrowed finials. Spiked iron railings, with gates either side, contain the front garden with its modest patch of earth, single maple tree and geometric path. Stone steps lead to a massive front door; metal stairs to the entrance to the basement. To the right, a public footpath separates it from the house next door. An estate agent’s fallen sign rests on the ground.
Flat 2. To Let.
Automatically, Marina compares the reality before her to the photographs she’s seen in newspapers. But those grainy images were mere reproductions, while this building is solid and stamps its importance on the street.
Marina crosses the road. The house is in darkness save for the light on the second floor and a cobwebbed lantern above the front door, but it’s enough to notice the crumbling cornices and cracked stained glass. The bricks need repointing, the ledges need repainting and the maple tree needs cutting back.
Three floors and five windows and then the basement. The light in the top window is turned off. Marina shivers and buttons her faux-fur coat. Her hair hangs abundantly around her face rich and dark and warm. She wears thick clothes, boots and fingerless gloves, but still the chill of the night creeps inside her bones. Flexing her fingers, she moves beneath a street lamp as if it might give her heat.
Above her, the sky is heavy. Stray snowflakes are fall- ing. She should go home. She should get into her Mini, turn the heating on full blast and speed away from London.
But she does not. Warily, she steps forward and peers more closely at the house. Along with the set of doorbells – five, she counts, for five flats, there’s a separate bell for the basement – she takes in the original details: the lion-head door knocker with its gaping mouth; the metal bell pull that hangs like a noose; the guillotine blade of the boot scraper.
She considers the people who have lifted the knocker, jangled the bell or scraped their shoes: tenants and visit- ors. She imagines the figure of a lonely woman, creeping like a spectre up the steps, pushing open the door and leaving her baby inside.
Who would do that?
A weight forms inside her chest. It’s an old question and yet Marina’s body bows beneath the hurt because she knows she was the baby and the woman was her mother.