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To begin a slower burner but you live with the characters
The literary thriller is not usually my cup of tea but I was surprised by A Child from the Wishing Well. Nickford obviously revels in the subtleties of the language and from the start I feared this might distract me but the characters are so meticulously detailed that I felt I was living alongside the main ones and thrust into the shiveringly eerie presence of the eccentric old music tutor, Ruth Stein, and her endearing pupil, Rosie.
I sometimes thought the storyline was rather complex but the detail and locations in German occupied Prague and the Malvern Hills sounded first hand so that, again, I felt I was there, alongside the poor Jewish music student who had to struggle to stay alive and who then found anonymity in England where, childless in old age, her craving to have a child of her own led her to hypnotise her pupils - even though she loved them all. An original book, challenging, but certainly a good read.
LORRAINE S-L, Richmond
Every cloud has a silver lining...
A disturbing but sensitive exploration of the troubled relationship between a dad suffering from paranoia and the consequent loneliness of his daughter.
Gerard has to struggle with his ineptness as a father, while his wife Heather is aloof, which leaves their seven-year old, Rosie, needing to turn to her old music tutor for affection.
I sense that even if Gerard had wanted to stop Rosie's violin lessons, Rosie would have protested to the point where he would give in to her demands in order to make up for his clumsiness as her dad, and despite Heather's misgivings about the eerie old Ruth.
Until the end, it was never certain whether Gerard's paranoia and creeping suspicion of Ruth were simply getting the better of him, or whether the bony old music tutor really was deranged enough to want to 'possess' his daughter, Rosie, and her other 'little disciples' - I mean, forever, in the bottom of her garden "wishing" well.
I wondered whether the spinster's almost childlike playfulness and fantasising with Rosie in her garden hinted of her own mental illness and I couldn't help thinking of pupils/little disciples which the childless Ruth just may have murdered in order to keep a surrogate child 'close' to her. Perhaps she once had a little girl by her lover, Gustav, who died many years back in occupied Prague during WW2 and that child, brought to the relative safety of England, was after her death buried by Ruth in the garden well or beneath the grass somewhere?
That question and, perhaps more,the sense that there could be light at the end of both of their tunnels, before tragedy struck for the girl, made the book a bargain for the price.