Abigail’s Secret

Written by Roberta Grieve
Review by Mike Ashworth

Abigail Cookson lives with her alcoholic father in Chichester. He physically abuses her and spends what little money he earns on beer. Abigail thinks her life has improved when she gets a job at a department store and then meets and falls in love with Joe, a sailor. However, Joe is sent off to sea, and Abby’s employer is not as respectable as he outwardly seems. He rapes her.

Pregnant and fearful of Joe’s reaction to her pregnancy, she leaves the town until the baby is born and arranges for the baby to be adopted. Determined to turn her life around, Abigail joins the Women’s Land Army and is sent to work on a farm close to Chichester.

The story did not work for me. I found the central character, Abigail, weak and unpersuasive, while the supporting characters were unconvincing. The only dramatic tension was whether or not she would wait for Joe, who may or may not be dead, or move on with Charlie, a young man who was clearly infatuated with her. What would happen if either found out her secret? The plot line was old-fashioned, and I do not think it will appeal to modern readers. Disappointing.