Christmas Awards 2011

Sunday, 15 July 2012

For the Love of Catherine by Carole Llewellyn

Published by Robert Hale

ISBN 978-0-7090-9572-9

It is April 1912 and 17 year old Mair Parsons, her 2 year old daughter, Catherine and her future mother-in-law, Ethel Jenkins, are travelling across the Atlantic. The little family has left behind its home in the Welsh mining village of Ponty to sail to New York to visit Mair’s stepsister, the famous music hall star, Rhiannon Hughes. The journey is made even more exciting as Rhiannon has booked the family’s passage on RMS Titanic of the White Star Line, making its maiden voyage from Southampton.

That excitement is short-lived, however, as on Sunday 14th April, the great liner collides with an iceberg and over the course of the next few hours, sinks to the depths of the Atlantic Ocean, with the loss of over one thousand lives. Fortunately, Mair, Catherine and Ethel all survive, although Mair becomes separated from her daughter and Ethel just before they board one of the lifeboats. Hours later, Catherine and Ethel are picked up by the Carpathia and some days later are met by Rhiannon at the docks in New York. It is many worrying days later, however, before Mair’s fate is known and it is with much joy and relief on both sides of the Atlantic that she is discovered in a hospital in Manhattan. Fortunately, Mair’s injuries are minor, but her experience has had a huge psychological impact on her and when the time comes for her to be repatriated, Ethel and Catherine already having returned to Wales prior to Mair’s whereabouts being known, she is not at all enthusiastic about the prospect. Mair’s young life has been extremely traumatic and her experience on the Titanic has left her questioning her future as a wife and mother, a future she feels she cannot face until she has discovered more about her estranged mother, Nellie and why she and her lover, Harry, treated her so appallingly, leading her to have a baby at only 15 years of age.

On Mair’s return to Southampton, she is met by her fiancĂ©, Frank. Frank loves Mair very much and cares for Catherine as if she is his own daughter. Mair’s brush with death, however, has changed her and she wants to take charge of her own life. She wants to find her mother and Harry and feels that until she does and discovers why she suffered at their hands, she cannot go back to her old life in Ponty and the role expected of her. Mair therefore makes the monumental decision to leave Frank in Southampton and walk away from her duties as a mother to travel to London in search of Nellie and Harry. Frank is distraught at Mair’s decision, but is unable to change her mind and so the following day, Mair sets off on her journey for answers.

The story continues and the reader is transported to a London prior to the First World War. Mair is plunged into a life very different to the one she led in Wales, but will she be able to find her mother and the answers she is looking for and make a new future for herself, or will she return to the familiarity of life in Wales and to the people who love her dearly.

Read on to discover what adventures are in store for Mair and whether she finally finds peace and the ability to face the future.

This is a wonderful story and can either be viewed as a “stand-alone” book or as a sequel to Carole Llewellyn’s novel, “Rhiannon”. The characters are likeable and the storyline gripping. The reader is invited into Edwardian Britain and the changing role of women within that Society.

I would recommend this book and am happy to award it five red roses.