It is 1909. Emma Le Goff is fifteen, and as the novel begins she is recovering from illness at the house of a neighbour in the small fishing village in Devon. When she regains her strength and faculties, she remembers the deep sadness that has gone before. She has experienced three huge losses within a short space of time, first her father, then her mother and younger brother Johnnie passing away. Worse is to come when she returns home to Shingle Cottage, only to discover that Reuben Jago, owner of the town's fishing fleet and some of the properties, has taken possesion of the house, in payment of the family's debts, he claims.
Reuben's youngest son, Seth, is sweet and gentle towards Emma, and there is a wonderful attraction between the two of them. They share a friendship which is a rare thing for Emma and for Seth, she is the only one he can speak about certain things with. They are compassionate towards each other; Seth having lost his mother too, both of them are affected by sad bereavements with mysterious circumstances surrounding them:
'Seth reached for Emma's hand and she placed hers in it. How good it felt - the touch. The caring. The mutual understanding. "It's as if we can't let the deaths of our mothers be an end of them, isn't it?" Emma said. "We can't get on with our lives - not really - because we've both got unanswered questions."'
As well as all the events happening in young Emma's life throughout the story - things are never straightforward for her - there is further intrigue in the plot regarding Reuben Jago and his two elder sons, and the activities on their boats as well as elsewhere; Seth has always suspected that there may be underhand activities occurring, though he takes no part in them. He has to become, and stay, a strong young man if he is to remain honest in his dealings with others, whilst dealing with the rest of his family and what might happen to them. Seth has to cope with the less than gentlemanly, dishonest ways of his father and two brothers, and try and somehow keep his own reputation from sinking to their level. Only when he is with Emma can he escape: 'Being with Emma made him forget time and responsibilities.'
In To Turn Full Circle, Linda Mitchelmore offers us a lovely, warm-hearted evocation of a past time and place. She writes with skill and compassion about people, with much of the story related via convincing dialogue and internal thoughts. It has romance, endearing characters, cruel, selfish villains, and a world on the cusp of change, where cars are on the increase, telephones are being installed, and aeroplanes are being spoken of. It has a compelling plotline, with intrigue as to Emma's friendships and romantic intentions. As an aside, I love how much Emma treasures the one book that she has: '...she hugged her copy of Persuasion to her as she fell asleep each night, knowing her mama had bought it for her, touched it...She couldn't imagine how a life would be that had no space in it for books.'
Published by ChocLit on 7th June 2012 in paperback. Ebook available now.
Thank you to the publisher for kindly sending an ebook of this novel for me to read and give an honest review of.