|Hodder & Stoughton|
Imagine if you couldn't see
Then one day somebody took your hand and opened up the world to you.
In late Victorian England on her father’s hop farm, Adeliza Golding is born with very little sight. Tragically, as a three year old, and after a bout of scarlet fever, she loses her hearing and cataracts obstruct her vision even further. She becomes increasingly isolated; unable to communicate and trapped and lost in a world of darkness. Her father tries in vain to understand her, but has neither the knowledge nor the patience to overcome Liza’s disabilities.
In her darkness and confusion, Liza’s only communication is with the visitors, ghostly visions she speaks to in her head, who bring her neither comfort or joy, but who are her only way of making sense of her dark and dangerous world. One day, Lottie, a young hop picker takes Liza’s hand and begins to draw the shape of words, and suddenly the world beckons Liza in a way that she could never have envisaged.
What then follows is a beautifully written and very poignant coming of age story, in which Liza matures and grows into a strong and courageous young woman. With Lottie’s companionship, Liza is able to make sense of a changing world which sees her leave the familiarity of the Kentish hop fields, and head towards the unknown territory of the Boer War. The sweep of history moves effortlessly and very cleverly takes the reader on a voyage of discovery. We view the world through Liza’s eyes, which damaged though they are, offer a unique perspective on everything around her.
The overriding theme of love, friendship and survival make this one of those stories that stays with you long after the last page is turned.
It is a commendable debut novel, and I look forward to reading more from this talented author.
Do come back tomorrow to read an interview with Rebecca Mascull