This book was a while in the making as Charlotte was working on a monumentally consuming non-fiction work for Viking about her family home. Milicent's diaries formed part of her research for Hancox: A House and a Family and as a consequence of the in-depth research into Charlotte's family background, Milicent's Book glows with the depth and intrigue of a BBC period drama and the snippets of gossip and family intrigue put the tabloids to shame.
But it is the language that takes my breath away: “Orphan. What a lonely word. It sounds like ‘forlorn’ turned inside out.” Charlotte's voice, writing as 14-year-old Milicent, has that wonderful juxtaposition of naivety and wisdom reminiscent of every teen girl the world over. The writing is so evocative that I marvelled at how someone could come up with such insightful and beautiful prose whilst maintaining immaculate narrative clarity.
Filled with promise, despair, family tragedy and the most delightful touches of levity, this is a book anyone would be proud to have commissioned. Thank you, Andrea.