Harrington’s debut novel revolves around the trials and tribulations of a girl abandoned by her birth parents and unloved by her adoptive mother—but who’s determined to make something of herself.
In 1952, sometime after Georgina Jackson’s second birthday, her parents separate. Her mother takes custody of Georgina’s brother, Ian, while Georgina stays with her father. The child would never see her mother or brother again, and, strangely, they aren’t even mentioned throughout her remaining saga. When she’s about 3, her father dresses her up and brings her to the Frazers, who are to be her foster parents while he goes off to find better job opportunities. After several months, they take Georgina’s father to court to terminate his parental rights, officially adopting the child. She gets bullied in school and struggles academically, but she finds her voice through music, excelling to the point where she’s awarded a scholarship to a music college. But when her adoptive father becomes ill, she must quit school and find a job. This ultimately ends her involvement in music, and eventually, she winds up working in some ill-defined aspect of the banking industry. Harrington shows how Georgina’s deep-seated feelings of self-doubt remain with her through adulthood, which leads to a series of poor marriage choices, resulting in the painful irony of history repeating itself when Georgina’s forced to relinquish two of her own children to foster care. The twists and turns of Harrington’s plot have all the elements of a soap opera, and it has a Dickensian element that will compel readers to continue forward. The author adopts a unique narrative position in this sweeping third-person tale, as she’s both a storyteller and a commentator on the action. For example, regarding Georgina’s childhood memory of sitting under a kitchen table, hearing the thumping of a rolling pin, she writes: “We can only assume it’s her mother, but poppet learned at an early age not to take anything for granted, so it could have been anyone.”
A sometimes-rambling and melodramatic tale, but one that remains compelling.