The fourth daughter of a father that wanted sons, Mary lives a hard life on her father’s farm.
She is quick witted but frailer than her sisters and the people in her life are emotionally repressed. After being sent to the vicar’s house to look after his ailing wife, Mary begs the rector to teach her to write, which he does. The book is written in Mary’s voice, with her narration stating ‘this is my book and I am writing in my own hand’.
Written to reflect the protagonist’s learning, the prose features deliberately short sentences and negates conventions such as appropriate capitalisation. Hauntingly, it is only as Mary learns to write that the reader is made privy to the reasons why she urgently needs the skill. Haunting and arresting in narrative voice, the novel compels the reader to take Mary to heart.
Other recommended reading:Memoirs of a Dipper (2015)