When their nice cosy life is unexpectedly turned upside down with the crash of the family business, Imogen being the eldest is forced to take on the responsibility of her ailing mother who is in the early stages of senility and two younger sisters. Her father is totally blown away by the loss of his business and a huge loss of confidence in himself as a provider. Then the family is dealt another huge blow by the tragic death of their mother leaving them all rudderless. Though Frances was ineffective in dealing with the day to day lives of her family, she was very much loved and her loss affects them all badly.
Imogen comes up with the idea of taking in paid lodgers despite it being anathema to the society they live in. The youngest Teddy is sent along with Daisy to their aunt's house till they sort things out and Elsie and Imogen decide how they are going to manage not just their finances, but their personal lives and their father who has now become ineffective.
When the firm which took over their business offers their father a job, it is a life saver for him but for Isobel she feels the family are not being loyal to the Caldwell name. When her sister also joins the firm she is appalled but she is holding out but for what she doesnt know. The fact that everyone seems to have found some niche for themselves, along with boyfriends and a purpose whereas she seems aimless and jobless is enough to create tension for Imogen.
The onset of WWII is also imminent but the girls do not seem to want to acknowledge that it is going to happen. Whether reading about it in the newspapers or listening to the news is not the "done thing" for young women of the era I don't know but in this family they all pretended to be deaf and blind to what was happening in the world outside their little town, until it blew up in their face.
The family story of the Caldwells in the setting of just pre WWII was a good one. It embodied family values of the time, along with the position of women and what was expected of them. Family tension and rivalries were also seen - the way women took over the working world had still to come with the actual out break of the War. Characterization was interesting because we had all kinds of people in the book - from the flighty to the serious, from the domineering to the more submissive types.
The book was sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiaed review, courtesy of Agora Books.