Margery Sharp’s most poignant novel, set during World War II and filled with her trademark wit and warmth, tells the story of the powerful bond forged between a British spinster and the unusual little girl left in her care
As the threat of war looms, Cecilia and Rab Guthrie leave their young daughter, Antoinette, with a spinster friend in East Anglia, England, so they can enjoy a holiday on the continent. Three-year-old Antoinette doesn’t speak, is inordinately clumsy, and must always be spoken to in quiet tones or else she becomes frightened. Then the outbreak of World War II forces Antoinette’s parents to return to America without their daughter.
As the years pass, a relationship grows between the unmarried, childless woman and her innocent charge. Slowly Antoinette begins to change, becoming less frightened and delighting in objects and words, as does her foster mother. But when the war is over, Cecilia comes to collect her daughter—and take her away from the only person who has every really understood her.
An insightful, unsentimental novel about the challenges of raising a mentally challenged child in 1940s England, The Innocents sweeps readers along to its shocking conclusion.