We stand in the back of the hall as the children troop in. Big ones, little ones. Straggly hair, cropped hair, curls… the adults surge forward to choose and soon there is just one child left, a little girl sitting on the floor. She is thin as a string bean and her sleeve is ragged and damp – like she’s been chewing it.
1939. War has broken out – hundreds of children are evacuated to the countryside to keep them safe from the bombs raining down on the cities. Wrenched from her family in the East End and sent more than a hundred miles away, seven-year-old Pearl Posner must adapt to a new life away from everything familiar.
Vivienne didn’t ask for an evacuee child. In fact, she’s not sure her heart can take it. So many years, so many disappointments… Vivi’s ability to feel love left her the day she learned the truth about her husband Edmund, and when she made the worst decision of her life and left her cherished sister to her fate. But like it or not, Pearl is here to stay, and what with the rumours about what’s happening to children in mainland Europe, it might be the last safe place for her.
As Pearl and Vivi learn how to live together, they discover that they have a connection that runs more deeply than they could ever have guessed – from before Pearl was born, and deep into Vivienne’s past. And will it be Pearl – the little girl who says so little and sees so much – who forces Vivi to finally confront what happened in her marriage… and to the long-lost sister she loved so dearly and let fall so far, just when she needed Vivi most?
‘Elegant…This beautifully wrought story is a worthy addition to Page’s oeuvre.’
‘I’m a big fan of Lizzie Page’s writing…Page is a wonderful writer, one who draws me into the story completely and utterly…When I Was Yours has it all going on. It has wonderful characters (despite what I said earlier, I loved Vivienne), is brilliantly plotted with a delightfully intertwined story, it has the heartbreak of war and a gorgeous love story. Once again, Lizzie Page has written a book that transported me off to the hell of the war front but this time adding the stoicism of the home front. I thought it was fantastic.’
Nicola Smith, NB Magazine