A striking homage to the classic nineteenth century ghost story, from the award-winning and bestselling writer John Boyne.
1867. Eliza Caine arrives in Norfolk to take up her position as governess at Gaudlin Hall on a dark and chilling night. As she makes her way across the station platform, a pair of invisible hands push her from behind into the path of an approaching train. She is only saved by the vigilance of a passing doctor.
When she finally arrives, shaken, at the hall she is greeted by the two children in her care, Isabella and Eustace. There are no parents, no adults at all, and no one to represent her mysterious employer. The children offer no explanation. Later that night in her room, a second terrifying experience further reinforces the sense that something is very wrong.
From the moment she rises the following morning, her every step seems dogged by a malign presence which lives within Gaudlin's walls. Eliza realises that if she and the children are to survive its violent attentions, she must first uncover the hall's long-buried secrets and confront the demons of its past...
In Boyne's thriller, 19th-century England is infused with the supernatural. Narrator Larkin born in America but raised in England effectively captures Boyne's characters, particularly the manner in which both class and gender shape daily life. In giving voice to protagonist Eliza Caine an unmarried, young schoolteacher who becomes a governess to a wealthy rural family shrouded in mystery she ably conveys the character's stoic practicality and idealistic yearning for social acceptance and economic freedom. Larkin also does a masterful job rendering the male voices, especially prominent village figures such as the barrister and clergyman, both steeped in the male privilege of the era. Yet, the most memorable aspect of Larkin's performance is her eerie portrayal of the two young children at the center of the otherworldly forces that Eliza encounters. An Other Press paperback.