Whisper My Name
A tantalising tale of Victorian England. Meriel, the heroine, is a young girl sent back to live with her grandfather in London after having been brought up in India with her parents. Her mother has died of rabies so her father, unable to look after her, sends her to his father-in-law. Meriel’s grandfather is a stern, eccentric, but well-known, scientist. As soon as she arrives her grandfather begins to submit Meriel to various tests, mental and physical. He measures the size of her cranium and keeps records of her intelligence and progress in school work.
The main narrative of the story begins in 1885, on Meriel’s 16th birthday. Trying to assert her independence she asks her grandfather if she can have her mother’s old bedroom, and asks for an allowance. To her surprise he agrees, but refuses permission for walks alone. He also tells her that she will not be allowed to return to India when she is seventeen as she had hoped. Angry and upset, Meriel decides to assert her independence and begins to go out alone anyway. On one expedition to Whiteley’s, a superior store, she bumps into Mrs Jolly, an acquaintance of her parents from India, and is invited to her house. On her second visit she meets Mrs Quinn and Sophie Casson who are, it soon turns out, spiritualists. Her uncanny experiences at a séance and in her mother’s old bedroom lead her to believe that her mother is trying to contact her.
This is an enjoyable, if conventional, story about a young girl’s feelings, of loss and isolation, and her struggle for freedom which, coupled with some unexpected twists and turns, make this a gripping read.