The Very Thought of You
Author: Rosie Alison
Published: June 21, 2011
Genre: historical fiction
Paperback: 320 pages
Source: borrowed from the library
My Rating: 4 stars
Synopsis (from GoodReads): The world is on the brink of war. As Hitler prepares to invade Poland, thousands of children are evacuated from London to escape the impending Blitz. Torn from her mother, eight-year-old Anna Sands is relocated with other children to a large Yorkshire estate opened up to evacuees by Thomas and Elizabeth Ashton, an enigmatic childless couple. Soon Anna gets drawn into their unravelling relationship, seeing things that are not meant for her eyes - and finding herself part-witness and part-accomplice to a love affair, with unforseen consequences.
My Thoughts: This was such a powerful novel, touching on so many topics that I could talk for hours about it. When I first heard about this book, I thought that it was about a girl being shipped to an old English manor during World War II in order to be away from the air strikes that were soon to come to London. However, this book was nothing what I thought it was going to be. Yes, it is set at an old English manor and it's converted into a boarding school for children, but that is almost the background noise the beautiful and heartbreaking story that is occuring. The manor is owned by Thomas Ashton and his wife, Elizabeth. They fell in love but Thomas was afflicted with polio following a vacation they took. He is now bound to a wheelchair and limited in his travels. Elizabeth is unable to bear a child and attempts to drink her pain away. Both are unhappy together and find other people to love, but in the end, tragedy befalls everyone.
Rosie Alison's writing is so descriptive and haunting at times. I felt as though I was reading a novel by Daphne du Maurier. I always felt like there was something lurking just beyond the next page, and I couldn't put this novel down. It wasn't scary or thrilling, but Alison's writing is so intense that you feel like you are about to be blown away at any second. I also thought that her choice of setting was unique. The thousands of children that were displaced during the war is a topic that doesn't seem to get much attention, and while the central focus in the book was on the characters and not the war, it was interesting to learn about how these children had to handle such a difficult time in their lives.
This is one of the best books that I have read this year. Between the setting, the writing, the characters, and the themes, it's something that will be staying with me for a long time. I believe that Rosie Alison is one of the best authors that I have read in quite sometime and I cannot wait to read more by her.