I could very easily write a great deal about Hold My Hand, but I mustn’t. It’s the kind of book that would be spoiled if you knew too much in advance.
So what can I tell you?
Well, there’s the house. Rospetroc is an old manor house on the moors of north of Cornwall. It’s been passed down through the Blakemore family, but the present owner doesn’t live there – he’s turned it into a holiday let. He has a problem though. The locals don’t like the place and won’t go there, and everyone that he has employed to manage it for him has swiftly moved on.
But Bridget thinks that Rospetroc could be the answer to her prayers. She’s broke and she is desperate to get Yasmin, her six year-old daughter away from her violent ex.
The story of what happens to Bridget and Yasmin at Rospetro is entwined with the story of what happened to Lily Rickets during the war.
Lily was a nine-year old child evacuated to Cornwall. She had a bad start in life and was grubby, roughly spoken and prepared to kick, bite and scratch to fight her corner. The Blakemores didn’t want her, resented her and ill-treated her.
The twin storylines unravel in clear, lucid prose, and they are both chilling and completely involving.
Made so by what I think is Serena Mackesy’s greatest strength – her characters. They are all wonderfully real, and their relationships and conversations are utterly believable.
Bridget’s bond with her friend Carole, her gradual integration into the village community, her relationship with her daughter – all spot on. As is Lily’s very different relationship with the Blakemores in a very different age.
And so I was hooked – and stayed up much later than I should on a work night to find out what happen to the characters that I really felt I knew.
My only slight disappointment was with the ending. After a dramatic build-up it was a little downbeat. Not wrong, but an “ooh” when I had been expecting a “wow”.
That doesn’t detract though, this really is a very well executed novel – if only all mainstream, contemporary fiction was this good!