The Ghost Of Lily Painter is an excellent read and a page turner. It kept me amused for two days at the beach.
The book is built up around researching the history of a house and the lives of the people who lived there in the course of a century and based on some historical events: the ‘baby farmers’ and their execution (Young girls who fell pregnant were forced to pay for the privilege of being cared for throughout pregnancy, with a further fee if they wished their baby to be adopted – with many promises made about titled ladies who were desperate for a baby to love and cherish, while the truth was far darker)
It’s the story of a contemporary mother, Annie Sweet, working through her own life problems, the story of Lily Painter in 1901 dealing with her own issues, the story of Mo George, trying her luck in London during the second world war and her daughter, Rose still living in contemporary days with a huge gap in her knowledge of her own history.
Annie Sweet is house hunting when this house in 42 Stanley Street ‘speaks to her’ letting her know instinctively that there’s a meaning to her own life trapped between its walls. Soon after she buys it, her marriage breaks down and she finds herself researching the history of the people who previously lived there. She becomes interested in Lily Painter, a lodger of the house, a young woman with a promising singing career. ‘ll say no more as I wouldn’t want to give the plot away but towards the end of the story, everything starts to fall into place like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, and as it does, every character of the story finds a new meaning and a new beginning to their lives or in the case of Lily Painter, afterlife.
The author, Caitlin Davies has written this book in such a brilliant way. The use of four different narrative voices easily transports you in the relevant eras: Inspector William George writes his diary in the early days of the 1900’s, Annie Sweet uses contemporary language, Lily Painter talks like a well bred girl of 1900’s and then as a ghost hanging around with unresolved issues.