Grandmother's Footsteps by Charlotte Moore

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Grandmother's Footsteps by Charlotte Moore

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Category: Women's Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Luci Davin
Reviewed by Luci Davin
Summary: Three generations of women reflect on their past, present and future in this well written story of a house and a family.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 288 Date: July 2010
Publisher: Viking
ISBN: 978-0140278316

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Verity's husband has died suddenly and she decides to sell Knighton, the house she has lived in for large parts of her life, where she was born and brought up and where she has lived for thirty years with her husband and daughter. She must sort out all the possessions and papers stored there, and this prompts her reflections on the past, including her not so happy marriage. She also realises that now Simeon is dead, she can reveal a family secret to her daughter Hester.

Hester is a divorced woman with a good, well paid job. Her ex husband, Guy, has come back into her life wanting to have another go at things, but Hester, her mother and her friends are all too aware that he may have ulterior motives. So why is she even considering taking him back as an option? Maybe she should try to have a child before it's too late.

The narrative shifts between three viewpoints – Verity and Hester in the present day of the story, which is 2000, and Verity's mother Evelyn. Evelyn's story is told through a diary she wrote in 1980 at the age of 85, planning to leave it for Verity to read.

I was particularly drawn into Evelyn's story, of her memories as a Victorian/Edwardian child, her political activism as a suffragette, her affair with a married man during the First World War. Although this is the historical part of the novel, the diary form and first person narrative give it an immediacy and Evelyn seems like a more accessible character.

The story is centred on Knighton, the house, the memories it holds for all three women, and the reactions of Verity and Hester to leaving it. On the first page we are offered an estate agent's description of it, and through the book, a portrait of the real house through the eyes of the women who have lived in it is built up, and Knighton is almost a fourth character.

Grandmother's Footsteps grew on me as the storylines developed. There is nothing particularly original in this novel, about a very upper middle class family, and about women making decisions at a turning point in their lives, or looking back in very old age at the direction a life has taken, and remembering those long gone, but the story is engagingly told and well written. I liked all three protagonists and hoped Hester would resist going back to Guy, and that if she did want a child she could find a way to do that on her terms not his. Charlotte Moore also avoids sentimentality and writes with a dry wit. Verity was on the toilet when her husband died, reading a newspaper article and staying there until she had finished reading it. While they were still living under the same roof, this was not a happy marriage. I also liked the independence of all three women and the way in which they stayed true to themselves.

This paperback edition of a novel first published in 2008 coincides with the publication of a new book by Charlotte Moore about Hancox, the family home where she was brought up and where she now lives herself with her three sons. Hancox is reviewed here.

Thank you to the publishers for sending a copy of this book to the Bookbag.

If Grandmother's Footsteps appeals to you, you might also like The Rose Of Sebastopol by Katharine McMahon or Days of Grace by Catherine Hall.

Buy Grandmother's Footsteps by Charlotte Moore at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Grandmother's Footsteps by Charlotte Moore at

Buy Grandmother's Footsteps by Charlotte Moore at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Grandmother's Footsteps by Charlotte Moore at


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