Christmas Awards 2011

Monday, 13 February 2012

The Yearning Heart

The Yearning Heart by Sylvia Broady
Published by Robert Hale Limited
ISBN: 978-0-7090-9211-7

The year is 1941. Britain is in the turmoil of war, but for many, the family values of the day remain the same. It is therefore no surprise that when Victor Renton takes advantage of his vulnerable 16-year old sister-in-law and she becomes pregnant, Frances is the one who is considered to have brought dishonour on the family. In order to avoid a scandal, Frances’s mother, Agnes Bewholme, deposits her daughter in the middle of nowhere at Gembling Farm. Fran works for her keep and when she goes into labour, Mr Gembling takes her to the local nursing home, where she gives birth to twins, Michael and Christine.

To Frances’s confusion the staff at the nursing home insist on calling her by her sister’s name, Isabel Renton, but Agnes explains that this is to avoid the shame of her being known as an unmarried mother. Frances falls in love with her babies and the brother of one of the nurses takes photographs of the young mother and her children.

A week after the birth, Agnes Bewholme arrives at the nursing home and, to Fran’s horror, instructs her daughter to return to Gembling Farm whilst she takes the twins home to be cared for by herself and Isabel. Totally distraught at the separation from her children, Fran resolves to be re-united with them as soon as possible and then she receives the devastating news that Christine has died.

Years later, Victor is dead and with Michael approaching his 16th birthday, Fran is determined to let her son know that she and not his Aunt Isabel, is his mother. Agnes having died and so being unable to thwart her attempts to be re-united with her son, Frances believes that nothing stands in her way. She writes to Isabel and sets out her plans to put her yearning at an end, but Fran underestimates her sister and the lengths she will go to keep Michael to herself.

Read on to discover if Fran can right the wrong exacted on her all those years ago, or if Isabel succeeds in preventing mother and son being re-united.

The measure of a good book is that it draws the reader into its story from the first few pages. “The Yearning Heart” certainly does that. This book is difficult to put down as it takes the reader through may twists and turns to reach its conclusion. The reader feels sympathy for both Frances and Isabel, two sisters placed in an untenable position as a result of the actions of a weak husband and a domineering, unfeeling mother.

However, this is not a story limited to the triangle between mother, son and aunt. It also successfully explores other characters and relationships.

I highly recommend this novel and award it five Red Roses.


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