The Companion

Written by Sarah Dunnakey

Yorkshire in the 1930s, and Billy Shaw aged twelve, is sent to be a companion to another boy of similar age, Jasper. Jasper lives in a large property at the top of the moors, High Hob House, with his mother and uncle, Edie and Charles Harper. Both of these are rather bohemian people, and Jasper is a wild, eccentric child, with a violent temper. Billy narrates his unusual experiences in his own idiosyncratic northern voice. We know from the first page in the novel that there is a violent dénouement with the apparent suicides in 1936 of both Edie and Charles at their house.

The story alternates the 1930s with the present: Anna, trying to escape a bereavement in her native north-east, takes up residence as the custodian and manager of the mill house and property that Billy’s family once lived in, that is now a museum and local heritage centre. Frank Chambers, whose mother was Billy’s sister, lives in an adjacent farm, and tells Anna that the trustees of the museum are not being fully truthful about events. The reader is plunged into an immediate mystery, and Anna begins to suspect that the Harpers might not have committed suicide. She befriends a successful crime fiction writer, Sam Klein, who is staying at High Hob House, and the whole sorry imbroglio is gradually uncovered.

The novel takes place in Wuthering Heights country near Haworth, and indeed, the mood of the narrative resonates with the raw passions and emotions that affected some of Emily Brontë’s famous characters on the wild and windy moors. It is an absorbing tale of how events can resonate throughout the years, as Anna uncovers the sordid past to present a truer version of what happened many years ago.