THE CHILDREN’S HOUR by Marcia Willett


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A family’s secrets are finally aired as three aging sisters reunite in an idyllic country-house setting: another in the cozy, milk-and-cookies genre.

The secrets that have been hidden over the years are the genteel kind: adultery, a pregnancy, an argument that may have caused a fatal accident, nothing too sordid. But all secrets bear their freight of hurt, so as siblings Mina, Nest, and Georgie revisit the past, the experience is often painful. The story begins when Georgie’s daughter Helena asks her aunts to look after her mother, who has developed Alzheimer’s, until space in a nursing home becomes available. Mina is a widow; Nest, the unmarried youngest, has been confined to a wheelchair since the car accident that took the lives of their sister Henrietta and her husband Connor. Georgie has always spoken of secrets that only she knows, and Nest is especially worried about what she might now say. Georgie is often lucid, but taking care of her exhausts Mina, who confides her concerns each night via e-mail to Elyot, whom she met in an online support group. As weeks pass, the sisters learn the truth about their mother Lydia’s affair with Timothy, a friend of their father’s. While Dad was living in London with his mistress, Timothy fell in love with Lydia and fathered one of the siblings. Mina ruefully recalls how she broke up with her true love, a soldier, while Nest remembers her deep feelings for the much older Connor. He gave up Nest when he was introduced to her glamorous sister Henrietta, but not before getting her pregnant; a suitable home was found for the resulting daughter. Parentages are revealed, as well as new and old loves.

So soothing it’s in danger of being soporific.

Pub Date: July 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-312-32777-3
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2004


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