Author: Kellyn Roth
My Rating: ★★★★☆
Summary from Goodreads:
London, England, 1870
It comes to the attention of curious eight-year-old Alice Chattoway that her father is seemingly nonexistent. After realizing that his absence is making her mother unhappy, Alice becomes determined to find him and pull her family together. But Miss Chattoway’s answers to her daughter’s questions are vague at best and Alice begins to wonder if she will ever discover her mother’s secret.
I loved this book! I couldn’t put it down once I stopped, and it drew me in.
Few negatives: the story was choppy and fast-paced at times, which is my main downside; there was a lot of time spent telling and not showing, and it dashed around from many different places and times. That said, however, because of this it was able to cover a long timespan, and I felt that aspect was good. I was confused as to who was who at the beginning, but fortunately that didn’t last too long.
All that, though, wasn’t really bad enough to lower my appreciation or anything! The writing was exceptionally good, especially considering the author’s youth, and I was drawn in from the moment I began reading. The characters had me hooked, I loved the way the story played out through Alice’s eyes. Through her eight-year-old innocence we travel her world, her life, discover secrets and wonder. It was short, sweet, and brimming with life and love. It was a true romantic, a story of hurt and of healing and incoportating beautiful Christian themes (I LOVED the Bible verses at the beginning of each chapter) while not being too upfront. I loved the way the plot allowed us to travel in Alice’s shoes for a long time, years rather than just a few weeks, and I thought the way everything was revealed—whether through Claire, Nettie, or someone else—was perfectly timed, giving us answers when we wanted and leaving us wondering enough in order to keep reading. I thought Alice was adorable and of course so was Ivy. Claire’s character was done well, too, and expressed realistically. She didn’t change too much throughout the course of the story, but there were some good themes displayed through her—though I did at times feel they didn’t really come through correctly, and I’ll address that now.
SPOILER (Highlight to read)
Personally, I feel it’s generally not the best idea, when you have two characters that you want to end up together, but one of them is married, to kill off his wife so the two of them can be together. I don’t care that the two of them are meant to be together, already have children from before and “are in love”. He’s married to another woman! You can’t just kill off the woman to get the two together. Just not a good idea.Just—no. I’m sorry, but no. I understand why it was that way, but I just don’t think it was the best decision.
That put aside, though, everything else was done well. I liked the boarding school aspect, loved the forgiveness and family themes, and all together thought it was a sweet and happy read, despite some of the deeper elements and story elements (that were treated lightly). I would recommend it to anyone probably 12 and up looking for a cheerful but mysterious read! 4.0 stars.