Stolen Summers by Anne Goodwin

Moving, and positive, story of a life withheld.

The year is 1939 and Matilda, after being away for some time, is looking forward to going home and seeing her adored younger brother again.  Only she doesn’t go home, she is taken somewhere she doesn’t want to be, and it is entirely within the law – because although she is nearly 20 years old Matilda must obey the rules of society – and men.  

This is Matilda’s story and of how she makes the best of a life so very different to what she had expected and how her everlasting hope gave her strength.  Though this is about Matilda, it is also the story of countless other women in similar situations in the UK, and how the sudden possibility of freedom after being hidden away for so long impacted them.  

Although “historical fiction”, this way of life was imposed on so many during the lifetime of many of us (slightly older) readers.   Indeed in the mid 1970’s (as a child) I became a weekly volunteer at a similar institution to the one Matilda finds herself in – the awfulness of which I have never forgotten.   Later I met with people who found themselves placed in the community after spending most of their life in such places.    Therefore for me this is a novel that is very real, and Matilda could have been any of those people I met.   

5*s from me for this moving, yet positive, story of how society treated people  like Matilda who did not fit into the social norms of the time.   The story moves between 1939 and 1964 is beautifully written with characters that seem very real, and a tale that will stay with me for a long time. 

This is a prequel to Matilda Windsor Is Coming Home, which I also gave 5*s to, but both can be read as standalone.  Stolen Summers is a novella at 151 pages, with every page packed full of  emotive and relatable writing.  I am glad I read Matilda Windsor is Coming Home first, as I enjoyed the mystery of wondering exactly what had happened to Matilda, which is revealed in the prequel.  However these books can be read in any order.   

The author’s website has a lot of background to Matilda’s story.  Find it here:

My rating:   5 out of 5

Setting:  Cumbria, UK

Publisher:  Annecdotal Press

Publication date:  1st October 2022

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Other book/s I have read, and reviewed, by this author (click on book cover to see review) :

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