“Imagine if you couldn’t see
Then one day somebody took your hand and opened up the world to you.
Adeliza Golding is a deafblind girl, born in late Victorian England on her father’s hop farm. Unable to interact with her loving family, she exists in a world of darkness and confusion; her only communication is with the ghosts she speaks to in her head, who she has christened the Visitors. One day she runs out into the fields and a young hop-picker, Lottie, grabs her hand and starts drawing shapes in it. Finally Liza can communicate.
Her friendship with her teacher and with Lottie’s beloved brother Caleb leads her from the hop gardens and oyster beds of Kent to the dusty veldt of South Africa and the Boer War, and ultimately to the truth about the Visitors.
Rebecca Mascull’s first novel is the tale of a wonderful friendship, but it is also a thrilling adventure, a heartbreaking love story and a compelling ghost story.”
4.5 of 5 stars
I received a copy of this book from Rebecca Mascull and this is my honest opinion of the book.
Adeliza Golding is the much wanted child of Edwin and Evangeline Golding, born after 5 other miscarriages. She is born with extreme myopia and soon looses her sight to cataracts. When she is just two years old she contracts Scarlet Fever and is left deaf as a result. Her world is closed off. She comes to cherish the interaction with her father, misbehaving and lashing out in the hope that it is he who comes to calm her down. Other times it is Nanny who has less patience with the frustrated Liza. Meanwhile Liza’s mother has retreated to her bed and refuses to allow Liza to interact with her.
One day Liza ‘escapes’ the confines of her nanny and runs amongst her father’s hops plants. Suddenly someone grabs her hand and repeatedly stokes a pattern in it. Surprised, confused and intrigued Liza allows herself to be led away. Soon her new friend Lottie replaces Nanny and opens up the world to Liza, introducing finger spelling to her, and with it a way to interact and live again.
Lottie’s influence on Liza has a dramatic effect on the family. Her father can now communicate with her and her mother too. She soon emerges from her room and Liza can finally realise how loved she is. Lottie introduces Liza to her family and the outside world and allows Liza to become the determined, selfless, caring person she is.
I picked this book up intrigued with the synopsis but not sure what to expect. I read the first few pages and was immediately drawn into the story. Rebecca Mascull has created a compelling character in Adeliza Golding and I didn’t want to stop reading until I found out how her life was going to develop. It was a pleasure to see the relationship between Liza and other members of her family grow, and to see that family grown beyond her immediate one to include Lottie and her family. Lottie was also a wonderful character, full of love and understanding and as the story develops we see how she has come to know finger spelling and see a little of the heart-ache that drives her.
When Liza learns to communicate she not only opens the world to herself but also the Visitors. These visitors she learns to realise are spirits, trapped on earth. She learns to first keep these visitors a secret but then opens up to Lottie of their existence. In time as she discovers more about her own spirit she figures out how she can help the ones only she can see and hear.
I loved the pace of this story, how we get to see Liza grow from a child to a young kind woman, who realises her own limitations but who is determined that her lack of senses will set her back in life. The story travels from Kent to Africa and I particularly liked that part of the story related to the Boer War.
It is a beautifully rendered story of acceptance – acceptance of ourselves and others, acceptance of our gifts and limitations, of forgiveness and accepting that we can make more of our life than was originally deemed for us if we try.
I highly recommend this book. It is part love story, saga, ghost story and historical fiction, a perfect amalgam. It is wonderful debut and I can’t recall reading a story quite like it. I eagerly await more from Rebecca Mascull.