A Loving Family, Dilly Court

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Eleven-year-old Stella Barry is forced into service when her family find themselves living hand-to-mouth.

Leaving her mother and younger brother and sister behind, Stella goes to a big country house outside London. When she returns home one Sunday, she discovers they have disappeared. Thrown out of their lodgings, no one knows where they have gone.

Seven years later it looks likely Stella will soon become Cook. But circumstances compel her to flee with no references and only a few personal possessions to her name.

She has never forgotten her loving family and is determined to find out what happened to them – once and for all.

Publisher: Arrow Books, Mar 2014

Reviewer: Katy Poulloin

Set in the late 19th Century England, this story follows Stella Barry in the mystery surrounding her missing family.  After a family bereavement, Stella was sent away to work in the country, only to return a few months later to visit and find her family missing.  With no way of finding where they had gone.  Stella sets herself the challenge of finding them years later, meeting new people and finding new friends along the way.

This is one of those books you start reading at 7pm at night and emerge hours later realising you have to go to work and you haven’t gone to bed.  It is so easy to read and reminds me of Enid Blyton for grown ups mixed with a little Downton Abbey.  The prose is well paced out and every chapter leads to something new and makes you want to find out what happens next.  I loved all the characters we got to know and loved the ‘good feeling’ aspects of the story, where good things do happen to good people.  The author has a great ability of putting you right into the pages, through very good characterization.

The book is a great fictional story, which simply allows some good old escapism.  Definitely one I would recommend whether you like this genre or not.  I do not normally pick up this genre, believing that the Mary Jane Staples style to be something my Mum enjoys and not something I’m ready for yet, but was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it.

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