The Girl from Barefoot House 2

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Things get even more complicated for Josie.

The day before they are supposed to leave and start their new life, Josie insists on saying goodbye to Tommy and Nora, the children she has befriended outside the pub. Once they are there, Mabel decides to say goodbye to her old pals, promising she wouldn’t touch a drop of alcohol. I feared this wouldn’t end up well, and I was right. Mabel tells Josie she is going to the lavatory, and Josie decides to buy something to Tommy and Nora with the few coins she has. She goes to a sweet shop as the sirens go off. The woman in the shop tells her that she can’t sell her anything as a possible bombing is likely to follow. They are unable to leave the shop and they take refuge under the counter. When danger has passed, they go outside, and they find the pub gone, and later Josie learns that the bomb fell on the lavatory where her mother was.

The shock is such that Josie doesn’t speak. Some nuns take her in, and a few days later the nun is with Maude, who is relieved to have found her. The social services find Mabel’s sister, Ivy, and Josie is told she is going to live with her aunt from now on. Ivy seems genial when the social worker takes Josie to her, but when they are left, Ivy shows her true colours. The first thing she does is to pinch her wrist painfully, forcing the girl to speak, and then we learn that Ivy is very concerned about appearances. So she makes Josie learn a fake story about her being five and Mabel marrying a man who was killed in the Battle of Britain. Josie is not happy about it, feeling angry and very lonely, and she even throws a tantrum when Ivy goes to work. Yet, she knows that she has to do this for her mother.

Then Mrs Kavanagh, who she had met a couple of years back in a shop, comes to the house with her little girl Lily. Since Ivy is not back until six, the woman invites her to her home to have her tea. Mrs Kavanagh has a big family. Apart from Lily, who is six like Josie, she has two other daughters, Daisy and Marigold, and three boys, Robert, Benjamin, and Stanley. Josie feels warm and happy here as Mrs Kavanagh is very kind to her. The woman then tells her that she knows that what her aunt had been saying is not true. A couple of years ago when she ran into Mabel and Josie, she knew straightaway  that Josie was her daughter, and she could guess that she wasn’t married, and back then Mabel had said that she was four, so Josie couldn’t be five now. The woman also tells her that the secret is safe with her, and she even excuses Ivy as a woman too worried about appearances. I think Mrs Kavanagh is going to be good for Josie, who isn’t going to have it easy in her new home.

At the end of the day she returns to her new home, and she is glad that she has friends in the Kavanagh’s. She reckons she doesn’t like Lily because she is too bossy and opinionated, but as time goes by, we can see that Josie enjoys Lily’s straight talk. I find Lily so refreshing. As Josie says, she is bossy, but I love the way she talks and makes fun of Ivy. Josie also meets Vince, Ivy’s husband. She knows that her mother didn’t like the man, but Josie can’t see any reason to dislike him. Everybody agrees he is charming, but he is too submissive to his wife. We know that this charming man take advantage of Mabel when she was only fifteen and got her pregnant, and I’m afraid what he might do to Josie when she grows up as she is the spitting image of her mother.

I am already hooked on the story. I feel so sorry for Josie, who at such tender age she has seen and experienced things a child shouldn’t know anything about. At least, now she has Lily and her family, who I’m sure are going to be more supportive than Ivy and her husband.

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