Having read and loved this author’s previous book, Once Upon A Winter, I had high hopes for A Girl I Knew. Reading the blurb and discovering that one of the characters was called Gawain only increased my optimism that this would be a story well worth reading. I’m happy to say that it didn’t disappoint. Valerie-Anne Baglietto is a wonderful writer, with the ability to transport her readers to another world where all things are possible. From the very beginning of the story, with its allusions to Narnia, I was already opening my mind and heart to the possibilities of the unseen and the hidden – the realm beyond this reality. There is a tenderness and beauty in her prose that leaves me feeling happier for having read it; a sprinkling of magic in her stories that makes me believe that anything is possible, and what could be better than that?
MaryAnn Laurey and her young daughter Beth arrive at the family home of Wychewood in North Wales, in need of an escape. MaryAnn has had a broken engagement, her mother is embarrassed by her, anxious to send her away until the fuss dies down, and her three-year-old daughter has retreated into silence for reasons that MaryAnn cannot fathom. If anyone needs a knight in shining armour it’s MaryAnn, and when she meets Gawain he arouses feelings in her that she never knew existed. But why are her Uncle Rex and housekeeper Dilys so worried about their budding relationship if Gawain is as perfect as he seems to be? What is his secret?
With Wychewood’s future uncertain and her mother pressurizing her to secure the place for her branch of the family, the arrival of an American relative with plans for the estate causes more confusion and places Beth in great danger. With Gawain, her gallant knight, riding to the rescue, it is only much later that MaryAnn realises the terrible fate that awaits her daughter as a result. As events take a dramatic turn, MaryAnn must face up to the inevitable and recognise that there is more than one knight at the court of Wychewood.
This is a lovely story of love, loss and hope. An enchanting, modern-day fairytale where we learn that people are not always as they first appear to be, and it’s not just a frightened little girl who needs to find her voice.
Utterly spellbinding, like all good fairy tales it will leave you feeling like you’ve just learned a great truth all wrapped up in love and magic. Wonderful. 5/5
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