Tuesday, 18 July 2017

EVIE’S GHOST – by Helen Peters

Reviewed by JackieMarchant


Evie’s Ghost is the sort of book I loved to be engrossed in when I was a child – a real curl-up-and-read.  That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it equally as an adult – I might not be as physically able to curl up without a bit of creaking now, but I loved this from the moment Evie was sent to an aged (in child’s terms) godmother who lives in a flat in a big old house.

OK, child being sent to live with aged person in a big old house might not sound the most original start, but it’s one that always gets me going.  I loved what happens after Evie arrives and it is made clear she will left to her own devices, because aged godmother is far too busy digging up skeletal remains. 

This is when, at the invitation of a distraught ghost, Evie finds herself 200 years in the past, in the same room, in the same house.  Unfortunately she’s no longer a guest, but a housemaid.  Plunged headlong into the drudgery and sheer hard work of household staff, Evie soon appreciates the things we have today – like hot water from a tap and a switch to bring instant light.  A vacuum cleaner to suck up dust instead of having to brush carpets every day.  A fireplace that doesn’t have to be scrubbed until it shines every morning.  Sorry, I mean eight fire places – this is 200 years before central heating has been invented.

While Evie’s hands blister and cut thanks to lack of rubber gloves (not invented yet) and the caustic cleaning products that sting and scald sensitive skin, she is also supposed to be saving the daughter of the owner of the big house from a horrible fate.  But Evie soon learns that in those days maids did not talk to the daughters of the owner of the house.  Evie can’t even talk to the housekeeper without a clip round the ear – which was a perfectly legal thing to do in those days.

But there are moments when Evie manages to see the delights of living in that era – the scent of an unspoiled bluebell wood, the peace due to lack of motor cars, the splendid gardens of the house she knows will be long gone when she returns.  If she returns.

Evie can only hope that she will return once she has fulfilled the task of solving the desperate plight of the ghost.  But, as a lowly maid, this is not easy and Evie learns a hard lesson in class division.  Tension builds as Evie tries and fails until she despairs of ever returning.  At the same time, she learns a lot about the injustices of that world.

I could say that this is a book about being grateful for what you have, but that might make it sound preachy, which it certainly isn’t.  It’s a good story and a page-turning read.



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