This is a coming of age novel set in the decades just after the end of WWII, with little Carys Bowen as the protagonist. Upon her mother’s death, Carys is sent by her father to live with her aunts – her father is too busy with his new woman to appropriately care for his daughter. But Carys thinks it is because she does not live up to his expectations, and so her father’s selfish actions cement her belief that she is a disappointment, not only to her dead mother, but also her father.
This is an interesting premise, and the first few chapters contain quite some tension, as the young girl is repeatedly disappointed by her father – not because he wants to hurt her, but because he cannot quite handle the complication of a new demanding wife and the daughter from his first marriage.
The story goes on to describe how Carys grows into adulthood, but I must admit to occasionally finding it difficult to remain engaged in her life, because nothing truly riveting happens after her mother’s death, and because the pace is somewhat slow at times. Many pages expend on descriptions and events that do little to move the actual story forward.
Carys is a sympathetic character, her many Welsh relations likewise, but her father remains undefined throughout, and it is curious why the adult Carys would be interested in maintaining a relationship with a parent who treated her so shoddily – not even having the decency to pay for her upkeep.
However, for readers who are interested in the post-war years this book might appeal as the author must be commended for how realistically she has portrayed the attitudes of the times to such things as unwed mothers and cheating husbands. Carys is in everything a representative of her age, a time in which many young women dreamt only of being a good mother and wife.