Ten-year-old Helen and her summer guardian, Flora, are isolated together in Helen's decaying family house while her father is doing secret war work in Oak Ridge during the final months of World War II. At three Helen lost her mother and the beloved grandmother who raised her has just died. A fiercely imaginative child, Helen is desperate to keep her house intact with all its ghosts and stories.
Flora, her late mother's twenty-two-year old first cousin, who cries at the drop of a hat, is ardently determined to do her best for Helen. Their relationship and its fallout, played against a backdrop of a lost America will haunt Helen for the rest of her life.
This darkly beautiful audiobook about a child and a caretaker in isolation evokes shades of The Turn of the Screw and also harks back to Godwin's memorable novel of growing up, The Finishing School. With its house on top of a mountain and a child who may be a bomb that will one day go off, Flora tells a story of love, regret, and the things we can't undo.
©2013 Gail Godwin (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
Self-centered, often unkind Helen we learn has inherited some of her least nice traits. Her summer caretaker, cousin Flora, contrasts those traits. The story flows so believably and easily through the eyes of the child and enhanced by the reminiscence of the adult remembering the child of that summer. Suzanne Toren has so well captured the petulance of Helen as well as the gentleness of Flora.
I really enjoyed the story and would recommend on that basis. However, Suzanne Toran's narration struck the wrong note for me. For a story told from the perspective of a "10 going on 11" year old girl, the narrator sounded much too old. Also, her reading voice was a bit lethargic and distrusted the momentum of the story.
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