The Whalebone Theatre by Joanna Quinn (HC)
Maudie, why are all the best characters men?'
Maudie closes the book with a clllump. 'We haven't read all the books yet, Miss Cristabel. I can't believe that every story is the same'
Cristabel Seagrave has always wanted her life to be a story, but there are no girls in the books in her dusty family library. For an unwanted orphan who grows into an unmarriageable young woman, there is no place at all for her in a traditional English manor.
But from the day that a whale washes up on the beach at the Chilcombe estate in Dorset, and twelve-year-old Cristabel plants her flag and claims it as her own, she is determined to do things differently.
With her step-parents blithely distracted by their endless party guests, Cristabel and her siblings, Flossie and Digby, scratch together an education from the plays they read in their freezing attic, drunken conversations eavesdropped through oak-panelled doors, and the esoteric lessons of Maudie their maid.
But as the children grow to adulthood and war approaches, jolting their lives on to very different tracks, it becomes clear that the roles they are expected to play are no longer those they want. As they find themselves drawn into the conflict, they must each find a way to write their own story...
"Destined to become a classic . . . Elegantly written and totally immersive, Quinn's debut is a wonder." ― Daily Mail
"Quinn creates a world so rich with observation, detail, humanity and heart that you are incapable of doing anything but drinking it in with greedy delight." ― YOU magazine
"In classic English Country House novel style, [The Whalebone Theatre] focuses on the younger generation amidst a backdrop of scandalous adult misbehaviour. This is a chunky novel to get lost in, full of pacy plotting and luscious language." ― The Independent
"A crumbling old country manor, three unconventional siblings and the looming threat of war makes for a classic coming-of-age tale, as imaginative Cristabel, sweet Flossie and charismatic Digby attempt to find their roles in life. Brimful of charm, and wonderfully immersive, this is a captivating read." ― Daily Mail
"I was swept away by this compelling, beautifully written debut and its plucky heroine." ― Good Housekeeping
Publisher: Fig Tree