Saturday, 5 May 2018

The Life She Was Given

Finished May 2
The Life She Was Given by Ellen Marie Wiseman

This historical fiction work has two timelines. The earlier one starts in the summer of 1931 at a horse farm in the state New York. Lilly Blackwood is nine years old, and is aching, as she often does, to leave her small attic room for the world beyond. Lilly has lived in this room all her life, being told that it is for her own protection, as others would attack and hurt or kill her if they saw her. She isn't allows to eat with her parents, and must abide by her mother's strict rules.
Her father has broken some of them. He has taught her to read, and he has supplied her with books besides the Bible that her mother has her study daily. Occasionaly he lets Lilly out to the attic room beside her own, to allow her to stretch her legs and walk more. But he has never let her go elsewhere in the house, and she only sees the horses the farm raises through her small barred window.
Her father has also given her a cat, one she has had since she was three. The cat is the only creature who gives her love and who touches her affectionately.
Now, Lilly has noticed a circus in the field beyond the barn, and wonders what lovely things they have. When her mother comes to her room one night after she has gone to bed, and insists that she dress nicely for a private trip to the circus, Lilly can't believe it. Lilly's father is away, but she is told that he is waiting at the circus.
But Lilly's world is about to change drastically, and as she gradually realizes that night, her mother has no intention of bringing her home again.
The second storyline begins in 1956, with a young woman named Julia. Julia Blackwood has left home after her father's death and an argument with her mother, but now finds that her mother has died as well, leaving her to inherit the property. As Julia moves back home, and begins to explore the house she grew up in, looking at rooms she wasn't allowed into, she also finds a lot of questions. What is the strange room in the attic about? Who is the strange girl in the clippings that her father has kept in his office?
As the storylines begin to converge, we discover a tale of terrible cruelty, of abuse and neglect, of secrets and lies. This is a story of terrible betrayal and of abuse in many forms. and of a woman learning to move beyond her past.

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