This was a very odd book. I read a review on another blog and I’m sorry I can’t remember which one now. Sounded interesting so I got it from the library. It’s a funny, happy, haunting tale. It was a fairly quick read too.
Emerald is turning 20 and preparations are going for her big birthday party. Her stepdad has been called away to try to find money to save the family home from bankruptcy. Her Mother is quite a piece of work. Beautiful but self-centered. This quote from the book pretty much summarizes her in a nut shell…”Charlotte had built her life so that she might avoid third-class train carriages and she wasn’t going to wring her hands over those who made use of them now”. She has a brother, Clovis, and a much younger sister Smudge. As the preparations for the evening are underway, Clovis goes to the station to pick up Emerald’s best friends for the party. They return announcing that there has been a train wreck somewhere on the line and they have to go back and pick up some of the ‘survivors’ and put them up for awhile until the railroad can get things squared away. This is when the fun starts!
Smudge decides tonight will be the night to attempt her ‘Great Undertaking’. Smudge seems to be a child pretty much left on her own most of the time and seems to be quite wild. Gets interesting folks!
The ‘survivors’ start trickling in and one strange ‘gentleman’ seems to put himself above the rest and inserts himself right into the family party. The ‘survivors’ are all put into the morning room while they wait word from the railroad with what to do with them. Should they feed them? Should they wait? Why isn’t the railroad calling and why can’t Emerald seem to get thru to them when she calls them? Is the group of ‘survivors’ getting larger is it just their imagination? They seem to be getting fairly raucous in there!
Then a nasty little game of Hinds and Hounds starts up at the instigation of the stranger. It brings out the worst in a person! But is Charlie really a stranger? What secrets does he know about Charlotte’s past? Can he destroy her and her family or will love win out?
It was pretty predictable but it was a really fun read.
Read a review from The Telegraph here