‘But I’d made my choice and, for better or worse, we both had to accept its consequences.’
Aged thirty-one, Elizabeth Simmons is a music teacher. She is single and living at home with her parents in Sydney, Australia. Set in the early 1950s, this novella is a gentle romance. Elizabeth’s first love, William, was so changed by his war experiences that she had to break off with him. Tom, who had also wanted to marry her, now lives in Scotland with his uncle. Elizabeth enjoys teaching music and finds it fulfilling. Unfortunately, it doesn’t pay well enough for her to move out of home away from her domineering mother.
As Elizabeth reflects on the past, a ‘phone call brings her a new student. Sally is aged just five, and her father Edward Peterson is keen for her to learn. As Elizabeth discovers, Edward has recently been widowed. Elizabeth is invited to dine with Edward and Sally at his home, much to the disapproval of her mother.
And then, out of the blue, Elizabeth receives a letter from Tom. He is in Sydney, and seems to think she is married to William. They have dinner, and Elizabeth discovers that both she and Tom have been misled. What will Elizabeth decide to do? Does she have a future with Edward and Sally, or does her heart belong to Tom?
I enjoyed reading this novella. In part because it reminded me of women I knew during the 1960s, women who’d lost husbands or fiancés during World War II and often had no other choice but to live with their parents. Viewed with today’s sensibilities, some sixty years later, Elizabeth seems quite passive but her situation was not uncommon during this era, and Ms Sharp handles it deftly and with empathy.
I’d recommend this novella to anyone who appreciates a tale of gentle romance, one in which people (rather than their passions) are central. And yes, I do not like Elizabeth’s mother. I suspect that many other readers will feel the same way by the end of the story.
Note: My thanks to the author who provided me with an electronic copy of this book for review purposes.