Saturday, 11 February 2017

Tea at Four O'Clock - Janet McNeill

Product DetailsSometimes I read a book I don't choose, it's a book that just fell my way.  This is one of those, and very glad I am to have discovered it.  First published in 1956 (although it has an older "feel"), it was republished in 1988 by Virago.  It seems to be out of print now, but there are some secondhand copies available on Amazon, and I am sure a few more around the secondhand markets on the Internet or ask at your library. 

Set in Belfast in the years just after WW2, the story of three siblings, George, who has estranged himself from his two sisters; one who in the first chapter is already dead as we read about the day of her funeral, and the other sibling Laura - who nursed Mildred for some years until her death.  A short but heartbreaking tale of how a family can cause each other so much hurt in many ways, and how lies can affect the way others lives are led.

 Laura misses her brother George so badly it hurts, and on the day of Mildred's funeral he suddenly wants to be back in the bosom of his family.  As Laura is the only one left, we ask ourselves if he has an ulterior motive?  We also ask ourselves why Laura dedicated herself to the care of Mildred in her last six years;  surely not because twenty years previously Mildred was the head of the household whilst Laura suffered a complete mental and physical breakdown?   The mysteries of why and when unfold slowly, so take your time when reading this one - and finally, when all is revealed, you will understand how the lies we tell come back to haunt others.