London, Faber & Faber, 2013, 278p
As I neared the end of this book, I had no idea how it would possibly come to it's conclusion with so few remaining pages. After a slow and leisurely build up, I was impressed that everything managed to come to a conclusion so quickly and smoothly.
When Sophie is orphaned in a shipwreck, she is adopted by the eccentric and loving Charles. He teaches her about books and dreams and she learns to never ignore a possible. But as she grows up, the authorities become increasingly concerned about whether it is appropriate for Charles to remain her guardian, as she is less feminine than is expected of her time. So hiding on rooftops from the authorities, Sophie sets out to find her mother, presumed lost in the wreck, but Sophie still has hope.
The opening of the novel is rather slow of pace - you are introduced to Charles and Sophie and their little domestic absurdities, which I loved. For Charles, education is the most important thing to distill in his ward, but the children's authorities have other ideas about how a girl should be raised. Considering the novel is caused Rooftoppers, much of the book was given over to Sophie's life with Charles, so that I found myself missing Charles' peculiarities once Sophie took to the roofs.
This is Katherine Rundell's debut novel, so it can be forgiven that the balance between introduction and "rooftopping" did not seem quite right; especially since her prose style is so inviting and soothing, written like a classic children's fairytale with feisty modern characters and a dangerous path of adventure.
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