More family secrets and children kept in the dark in the interests of protecting them from the truth, and if there's a book that my memory seems to wheel out as a bench-mark for delineating perfectly this whole set of circumstances it's that excellent first novel Eve Green by Susan Fletcher.
It's so long since I've read it that it's not even on here, so at least three years ago and yet that child and her confusion remains etched in my memory to the point where I think I'd better re-read to make sure I'm not imagining just how good it was.
But equally good The Spy Game by Georgina Harding published by Bloomsbury and a second novel following The Solitude of Thomas Cave, which I would have read right now if the Kayaker hadn't taken it to Croatia with him and then passed it around to all his mates because it was so good, so possibly a result for Georgina Harding there too but I'll just have to await its soggy return.
If Thomas Cave was left out in the cold then The Spy Game is cold of another sort entirely.
January 1961 and Peter and Anna's German mother kisses her children goodbye as usual, drives off into the fog and disappears from their lives.
Simultaneously, that same day news breaks of the Krogers, spies and traitors and in an attempt to fill the gaps and silences their mother has left in her wake, Peter and Anna start to write an espionage history for her that might explain her disappearance. Their mother has been completely erased from their lives by the well-meaning adults who surround them; their father who maintains an unequivocal silence over their mother's disappearance and the Laceys who child-mind but were themselves victims of Japanese atrocities in the Second World War.
It is now the memorable winter of 1963 and this provides a perfect chilly, perma-frosted backdrop to the children's futile attempts at discovery, explanation and achieving any sense of coming to terms with their loss. I can remember that winter quite clearly, how everything remained buried, hidden under the ice and snow for months on end.
I know this happens in Canada all the time but not here in the UK very often.
As a child of that era, the cold war and spies, codes and Russians were the scary stuff of many a playtime so scattered recollections and references to the early 1960s allowed me to buy right into this narrative and plop myself down in the middle.
The kidney-shaped dressing table with the draped and pleated fabric cover and the glass top.
The packets of sweet cigarettes that we used to buy and 'smoke'....oh good grief.
The oddly wistful and beautifully named wild plants that used to proliferate on bomb sites, buddleia, rose-bay willow herb.
Georgina Harding captures her children perfectly on the page.
Children often don't ask the direct question that might give them the answers they want and in the ensuing silence often invent answers of their own. To this day I can recall going to my mum's family home in Liverpool to visit my grandmother, by this time bed-ridden and living downstairs, and I'd sit there quite desperate to go and look at what would have been my mum's bedroom, yet for some reason I never asked.
Years later my mum and I couldn't figure out why I'd never asked and to this day my silence still mystifies me other than putting it down to politeness, but if you live at 4 Elswick Street, Liverpool, please could I drop by when I'm passing?
To acknowledge all this as a writer and add in the discipline and restraint this then places on the whole feels like quite an authorial headache to be sorted.
It is only as an adult with a family of her own, and after her father's death and her estrangement from her brother, that Anna decides to travel to her mother's home town and try to discover the truth. Shot through with melancholy but not misery this is a book about displacement, identity, place and memory as Anna salvages and writes a history for her mother from the rubble and ruins of war, creating for herself a necessary past that will shore up her own present and future.
A memorably good read and its emphasis on children cleverly segues perfectly into Inner Child reading weekend, my choices tomorrow.