Zenobia – Nancy – Wix is the daughter of theatre impresario Devil and former artists model Eliza.
Born in the early 20th Century, Nancy and her brothers live through the First World War and its emotional aftermath. It’s the Roaring Twenties and the era of women’s emancipation too.
A near-death experience confirms teenage Nancy’s awareness that she senses and sees things that other people don’t, and in the grief and soul searching that follow the Great War, and after the Great Depression strikes the Wix family finances hard, she takes to the stage as a Spiritualist.
Her own experiences as traveller, mountaineer and skier feed into Rosie Thomas’s narrative, in the emotional pull of the high mountains, the motivations of those who go there – to trek or to climb – and the experience of being in remote places where nature is at its most harsh.
If you’re wondering about any or all of three aspects, read this book. As a female mountain traveller and trekker, they really resonated for me.
Cary / Kitty’s and Olivia’s lives intersect on the small Greek island which is home to Olivia and her family. Cary’s left an unhappy marriage behind and her friendship with Olivia (and envy of her happiness) soon leads her to try to escape her ill-fated childhood too.
Strangers Annie and Steve are caught in a bomb blast that destroys the Oxford Street department store where they were both doing their Christmas shopping. Rescued from the rubble where they had talked to keep one another alive, life gets more complicated as they each cope with the intense emotions generated by this shared experience and the fall out for their nearest and dearest.
Whilst the story is timeless the 1986/1987 setting hasn’t aged so well – it’s a world before mobile phones, when wives and mothers managed on their housekeeping – but the novel is all the more interesting for that.
Set in Pittharbor, an old whaling community turned small scale summer resort on the Maine coast, three, unconnected, generations of women feel the influence of long ago suicide Sarah Corder whose remarkable story we learn as May, the teenager of the trio, reads Voyages of the Dolphin.