Although the synopsis starts from 1967, the story begins in a ‘world’ that is the foundation and sets the scene, which starts in 1965. Ella is sixteen and living in the village Meridan Cross. Her father died a few years ago, her mother disappeared, so she is being lovingly brought up by her maternal grandparents on their farm.
We get to experience village life, getting to know all the characters who inhabit the village ……………. and all the gossip. For the youngsters, their social lives revolve around the farming community ie Young Farmer’s Midsummer Barn Dance. We become involved in watching Ella’s relationship with Niall develop. Niall, who is the charismatic older boy and has all the females flirting with him. There is a tragedy at the train station in Abbotsbridge, a wedding to attend and then Ella moves out to live with her mother Mel and step-father Liam.
The story then involves us in Ella’s life in Abbotsbridge but we also look back to what is happening in the village. Ella soon faces the truth of how Mel has changed everything about her life. She accepts college and is determined to be successful. Emotions become involved through a betrayal and we really get to see the strength of Ella’s character as her life unwinds in the town.
Mel really is ambitious for her daughter but not in a ‘wanting the best’ for Ella …………… but what she wants for herself, to enhance her own reputation. For all her high and mighty ways she is not liked in Abbotsbridge. She is likened to Cruella de Ville by Ella’s friend Rachel ………… which is very apt! I really couldn’t find any redeeming features in her personality. Ella’s relationship with Mel is offset by Liam, who is something of an ally for her. A perfect balance in their household. I found myself feeling really sorry for Liam having had to live with Mel for all those years and could see how escaping off to his study to work was a form of relief!
All the characters are totally believable and have their own problems to deal with, their own journeys to come to terms with. The scenes are written in such a way that it was so easy to image I was actually there, taking part.
There are references to the fashions of the day – ie clothes, songs, pre-decimalisation and cars. The huge difference I found is, of course, no mobile phones! The teenagers have no privacy and parents control who they speak to and when. So different in today’s world!
The world of both village and city that the author creates in the first of this trilogy was all absorbing for me. I can’t wait to read the second movement to find out where we will journey to next!