Monday 15 June 2020

The Whitsun Daughters

Finished June 10
The Whitsun Daughters by Carrie Mesrobian

This novel tells the story of three girls, two sisters and a cousin, who grew up together in an old house with their mothers, Carna and Violet. It also tells the story of another young woman who lived in the same area many years in the past. In the present, Poppy, the cousin and oldest girl, golden-haired and confident, has come home from university for the summer. She had been close to Hugh Isherwood, the young man who lives nearby, and whose father owns the house the girls live in, but suddenly broke it off, claiming that he'd sent her an inappropriate picture. Lilah, the next oldest, pale with almost white hair, has been having issues over the last year, and getting a reputation that doesn't do her any good. Daisy, the youngest and darkest in colouring, is quiet and sensitive, a girl who notices. She is fifteen. As the book opens, Hugh's mother, Evie has died in a car accident and the girls have gone to the funeral and are now on their way to the Isherwood house. When Daisy goes off on her own, she encounters Hugh and the two of them begin an interesting interaction.
Lilah is having a crisis, and it is dealing with this that the book focuses on in the present, as the girls try to keep their mothers out of it.
The young woman from the past, Jane Murphy, has travelled to America from Ireland, losing her older sister along the way. She is met by an employee of the wealthy farmer who will be her husband, and taken in hand soon after by her husband's sister. Jane is shy and uncertain, and struggles to do what is expected of her, but gradually finds a connection in the household. We see her life unfolding through the book, interspersed with the present-day plot.
What we also see is that Jane is still there are the farm, in spirit. She doesn't go far, but is waiting for something that we don't understand. She watches the girls closely and connects with Daisy in an unexpected way.
I liked the elusiveness of things here, how information was revealed gradually, and how unexpected some plot points were, although they felt inevitable in retrospect. A very interesting book, with very interesting characters.

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