What a cracker of a novel!
Motherless Marina has ambitions to be a ‘New Woman’ and chafes against the restrictions of her time, and her strict Naval father. His plans to send her to a Ladies’ College prove to be the last straw. Instead she follows him to Portsmouth, only to discover he isn’t going to Cadiz, as he told her, but somewhere far more interesting, and cold. On the way, she meets the glamorous Miss Smith, immaculately groomed, career minded and, with her calf length skirts,very definitely ‘new’. Marina thinks she’s found her role model, but is there more to Miss Smith than meets the eye? And just what has happened to Marina’s strange mother?
Throw in war-time plots, an enterprising ship’s boy, spies, huskies, mermaids and a big pinch of magic, and you have a gripping thriller that will keep readers enthralled as they try, like Marina, to find out exactly what is going on.
I highly recommend this novel. There is enough depth to it to make a great class read. There is lots to debate and discuss, and the themes will provide lots of food for thought. The wartime setting is deliberately vague, but has echoes of the Battle of Jutland. The theme of emancipation is constant, not just in the depictions of early feminism, but also the limitations placed on Jones by his class and income. The mix of magic and realism is very well done.
As an independent read, I imagine this would be devoured with great enthusiasm. It really is a page turner! Fans of Emma Carroll will love it.
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