Post Cards from a Stranger is the latest book I've read by Imogen Clark.
The story shifts from perspectives in 1969, 1976, 1987 and then 2017 within three generations.
In 1969 the Kemp sisters Annie and Ursula are trying to stay out of their father's way when he returns home from work. Anything can set him off and he becomes violent. When he isn't angry he is condescending and demeaning. They dream of the day they are old enough to leave and make a life for themselves far away. Why their mother endures being slapped and mocked is beyond their understanding.
When Annie is old enough to work she mets attractive and fast-talking Joe Ferensby. She is charmed and accepts his marriage proposal, escaping her hellish homelife and thinks she hit the jackpot.
Joe doesn't hit Annie but his true nature comes out after marriage. He's passive aggressive and talks down to her. He isolates her from friends and keeps a tight wallet so she must ask for everything. Once their two children Cara and Michael are born she knows she'll never leave. Lots more regarding the Feresby household but it's inserted in backstory throughout.
In 1987 we get a glimpse of single father Joe dealing with 2 year old Cara and 7 year old Michael. The children are uprooted from their London home and move to the Moors in Yorkshire. Cara cries for her mother for weeks and Michael comforts her. She misses her dead mother but in fact, young Michael is keeping huge secrets from his sister in an effort to protect her.
In 2017 Cara and her brother Michael as adults. Cara is caring for their father who has Alzheimers and her life is difficult. Cara is still living on the moors while Michael is a barrister in London. He is married with twin daughters and wants nothing to do with his father. There was a huge falling out when Michael was old enough to discover his father's secrets.
Now, Joe has Alzheimers. When things get bad Cara calls Michael for some input and he he says he knows it's difficult and would help more but..."you know how it is." He has no idea how difficult it is to be there and deal with an Alzheimers patient 24/7 and the rift between him and his father means he certainly won't head north and physically help. You'll discover the secrets much later in the book.
Cara is a wedding dress designer and has a studio where she crafts magnificent original designs. One day she is looking in the attic, a place forbidden by their father when Cara and Michael were children, and she finds a box of postcards. Right there - her life is upended.
This wasn't my favorite book by Imogen Clark but I wasn't tempted to put it down. It certainly covers quite a bit of territory. I was weirdly both sympathetic and impatient with Cara as she works her way the secrets her father kept. Imagine finding something you need to confront your parent with but their mind is gone so your opportunity is forever lost.
Previous books I’ve enjoyed by the author are as follows:
On my former book blog Novel Meals I wrote about The Last Piece . I love the cover!
I am awaiting the author's latest book Impossible to Forget.
Marg at The Intrepid Reader for the 2022 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge