Book Review — Coming of Age

A thirteen-year-old Martina goes through the struggles of coping and loss at the time when she tries to figure out herself — who she is and who she wants to be. She is sent to spend the summer in London with her grandfather who is a property caretaker at Dauncey Court. There she befriends Cecilia Buchanan — a former socialite who is often in the epicenter of drama, luxury and glamour, followed by people who do not always have the best intentions. During the several months spent there, Martina becomes more aware of the hideous world of adults than she had ever been at home.

When you are thirteen, you are at the bridge between childhood and adolescence, between growing up and the glimpse of adulthood. Things are frequently confusing and irritating. You are changing and it is frustrating, but at heart you are still a child. Martina experiences all of those feelings along with something much deeper and painful that transformed her whole life in one day. She had to deal with her own loss and the loss that her mother experiences, on top with the mess of her two baby siblings who felt more like intruders to Martina than to an integral part of her family.

She perceives Cecilia as a guidance figure that does not preach her or probe into her grief unlike her mother does. Martina feels appreciated and flattered that a rich and fine lady like Cecilia requests her company and shows her bits of her life, shares her precious designer clothes and perfume bottles. Imagine the face of a teenage girl — all lit up with curiosity. Mrs Buchanan was well-portrayed, but I wished there was more depth into her conversations with Martina. She opened up about her childhood, but what about afterwards? Was she really so sucked up into the world of money and shiny things that there was no other side to her? Why was her cousin her only living relative?

What happened to Martina after she got back? Did she view her life differently? Did it change anything? Did it shape her future somehow?

The novel was short, bitter-sweet and indeed coming of age. It was not without leaving unanswered questions behind, but that’s the art of storytelling. It’s never definite. I would recommend it to everyone regardless of age, it’s timeless with engaging writing.

Rating: 3 stars

I have kindly received a copy of this book from NetGalley and Joffe Books in exchange of a fair review.

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