You’ll Never See Me Again…
About the Book:
You have to keep running if you want to survive.
When her husband returns shell-shocked and broken from the Great War and his mother makes her life a misery, Betty Wellow discovers how bitter and hard life can truly be. But it is not until a devastating storm sweeps through their small fishing village and endangers her life, that she sees her chance to escape – and takes it.
Fleeing to Bristol, she changes her name to Mabel Brook and takes a position as a maid. But tragedy strikes once more after the sudden death of her mistress and she is cast back onto the streets.
Penniless and alone Mabel suffers a brutal attack before being rescued by a psychic named Nora Nightingale. There she gets her first taste of those who receive messages from the dead and realises she may have this gift herself.
But it isn’t long before Mabel receives her own message and is forced back to the very place she has escaped. A place of heartbreak and perhaps even murder – but Mabel realises that to secure her future she must confront her past one last time.
Heart-pounding, exhilarating and ever suspenseful, Lesley Pearse’s You’ll Never See Me Again is a tale of one woman’s fight to find her destiny.
I’m quite partial to Lesley Pearse’s historical fiction. It’s reminiscent of past favourites Catherine Cookson and Josephine Cox: stories of strong women overcoming adversity and forging new paths for themselves against a backdrop of British history.
You’ll Never See Me Again was an engaging read from start to finish. Betty/Mabel was a kind-hearted and considerate woman, and in a moment of extreme anguish and fear, she makes a decision to disappear from her existing life and begins another. This decision is not without consequence for Mabel and it weighs on her heavily, never really leaving her conscience. Even long after she’s settled into her new life, a situation unfolds where she is faced with a moral dilemma that puts her new life at risk and she acts unselfishly by returning to the home she fled to help a person who really doesn’t deserve Mabel’s consideration. As far as characters go, Mabel was well fleshed out, not without her flaws but infused with a sense of morality that served her well on many occasions.
The novel is set against the backdrop of the Great War in regional England. It deals with many themes: soldiers returning with shell shock; the Spanish flu epidemic; the changing class dynamics; and the discontent associated with the large numbers of German soldiers kept in POW camps in the countryside. There’s a shocking scene of hatred in which a man receives the telegram to let him know of his son’s death and he reacts by brutally attacking a German prisoner working on his farm. It’s one of those moments that steal your breath: the volatility of grief and having the enemy on your doorstep, working your land in the way that your son should be. It was such a clear moment of trauma within the story and handled very well within the context of the times in which the story was set.
This was a time of social change throughout England, yet much of it was out of necessity rather than progression, which was still to come. Justice wasn’t always aligned with the crime, not just in the above example in the case of the farmer, but again, later in the novel, when Mabel herself is brutally attacked. She is discouraged by the police and counselled to just quietly get on with her life lest she make herself look bad by pressing charges. Another area touched on was the notion of spiritual mediums hosting large-scale communions with the dead. England had never seen such loss, men dead from the war and even more people dying from Spanish flu. I thought this was an interesting angle to introduce into the story, less about whether you believe in this sort of thing or not and more about the morality of taking money to ease people’s suffering by providing them with messages from their dearly departed. It certainly seemed like a profitable industry. I liked how Mabel grappled with her unwanted talent in this area.
So, there were certainly a lot of themes explored with some depth throughout this novel. It’s a very busy story but it all moves along and comes together in the end quite well. The second half of the novel put me in mind of Downton Abbey, just the setting, era, and issues, along with some of the characters, sans the opulence and wealth. I really enjoyed this one and I recommend it highly to fans of historical fiction set during WWI with a focus on life on the home front and the changing social issues of the era.
Thanks is extended to Penguin Random House Australia for providing me with a copy of You’ll Never See Me Again for review.
About the Author:
Lesley Pearse was brought up in South London in various orphanages from the age of three. She learned about the Soho club scene and the music business during the Sixties with the late John Pritchard. Her novels have sold over ten million copies worldwide. Lesley has three daughters and three grandchildren and lives in Bristol.
You’ll Never See Me Again
Published by Penguin Random House Australia
Released on 2nd July 2019