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Miss Boston and Miss Hargreaves de Rachel…
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Miss Boston and Miss Hargreaves (2017 original; edició 2018)

de Rachel Malik (Autor)

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646317,113 (3.9)20
A story of the land, friendship and of secret lives. When Rene Hargreaves is billeted to Starlight Farm as a Land Girl, far from the city where she grew up, she finds farmer Elsie Boston and her country ways strange at first. Yet over the days and months Rene and Elsie come to understand and depend on each other. Soon they can no longer imagine a life apart. But a visitor from Rene's past threatens the life they have built together, a life that has always kept others at a careful distance. Soon they are involved in a war of their own that endangers everything and will finally expose them to the nation's press and the full force of the law.… (més)
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Es mostren 1-5 de 6 (següent | mostra-les totes)
Miss Boston and Miss Hargreaves is a beautiful, gentle story with characters who were real people, in fact Miss Hargreaves is the author's maternal grandmother. I love stories that have a nugget of truth in them, however small the nugget may be. Rachel Malik came up with the idea for the book when she decided to find out more information about the elusive Miss Hargreaves, and what a beautiful story she has created from so very little information. Aside from the few facts stated in the Historical Note, we are reminded that Miss Boston and Miss Hargreaves is ultimately a work of fiction.

I found it a refreshing change to have a book set during World War II which shows us the war from the perspective of the farmers and the countryside. There are no bombs and air raid shelters, although they might see a passing aircraft that has veered off course. With the men away to war, help on the land arrived in the form of land girls. Rene Hargreaves is allocated to Starlight Farm, owned by Elsie Boston. The pair get on so well that they naturally become good friends, but Rene is weighed down by secrets that threaten her new life in the countryside. We all know that secrets don't stay hidden for long in books, and Rene is about to see some devastating consequences when her past and present collide.

Like life in the country, the pacing is quite slow so it did take me a while to get into the book. I think it really livened up when Ernest came to live with the ladies, although he was like a naughty child leaving his sticky fingerprints everywhere. It did make me chuckle imagining him eating and drinking Miss Boston and Miss Hargreaves out of house and home.

The whole story becomes more poignant when you read the Historical Note at the end as Miss Boston and Miss Hargreaves evolve from 'characters' to 'people'. I didn't know until I read this that it was based on real people and it certainly made me pause for thought at the turn of events in the book. I think this would make a great book to ponder over with friends at book club; the quality of Rachel Malik's writing is very impressive, she has such an amazing attention to detail that enables her to draw beautiful pictures with her words. Miss Boston and Miss Hargreaves is a beautiful, moving and impeccable debut.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion. ( )
  Michelle.Ryles | Mar 9, 2020 |
This is one of those books where there's a lot going on, but a lot of it is unsaid, the action is all going on just under the surface. At face value this is a book about two women who find themselves teaming up, almost against the world until something comes to tear the world they have so carefully constructed apart. It starts unpromisingly enough, Miss Boston (Elsie) is the owner of Starlight Farm, having bene one of several siblings, all of whom have died, or married and moved away (although I'm still not entirely clear what happened to Moira), leaving Elsie to struggle on as best she can. It's also clear that she's not exactly in tip top condition in the head, something on the Autism spectrum seems possible, she's bright but went to pieces in the exams and has trouble relating to and communicating with people. It's early in WW2 and she's finally accepted that she needs some help, and has been allocated a Land Girl. Enter Miss Hargreaves (Rene, for now). She, too, has a past that's not simple to explain. And so they both have something to want to hide from the world. In each other they find something of what they are missing, Rene deals with the people who come to call while Elsie deals with the animals and garden. It is a division of labours that makes them mutually supportive together they are stronger than they are apart. In the face of their growing reliance on each other, the world again intervenes. In the midst of WW2 there is a need to make sure that land is being used efficiently, and Starlight is assessed as failing by the local Land Committee. Not on the basis of fact, you are to understand, but as a result of prejudice to an incoming family and a woman farmer. As a result, they sell up and begin a more precarious life, as labourers, traveling around the country looking for work and accommodation on various farms. And yet they can't leave the past behind them, it returns to intervene once more.
I thoroughly enjoyed this. It is quite understated and restrained, yet manages to leave the impression of being a love story without ever once having used expressions of love. ( )
  Helenliz | Sep 1, 2018 |
Miss Boston and Miss Hargreaves is highly recommended, I hope that lots of people find this novel.
"As she stood watching the board, there was a sudden outbreak of clickety-clacks and times and places began to disappear. For some minutes there was nowhere; everything seemed suspended; odd strings of letters flittered across the board and the tiles clicked as one departure after another was spun away. The ripples of sound grew quieter and louder as journeys moved along the board; others appeared from nowhere. Rene held her breath, finally the clickety-clacks slowed and stilled, and she saw the train to Penzance again – it had moved..."
Rene and Elsie meet when Ryene comes to work for Elsie as a land girl during WW2. Elsie loses her farm due to 'efficiency' measures (read local scepticism about a small female only farm) and they start travelling as workers all over the country. Things are hard but manageable until they have to care for a family member with dementia. I thought this book was really unusually structured, which the epilogue explains. The book is full of lovely descriptions of living in the countryside: birdcalls, muddy walks and farm animals.
"The kingfisher, always promised by the tour-boat captain but rarely seen, chose this day to appear. Flitting close by Rene and Elsie, apparently casual, he stabbed at the water and disappeared, reappearing, moments later, with a silver, shiny fish."

There is also a creeping sense of insecurity, done very well, showing the prejudices of the time and how couples tried to live anonymously under the official gaze. ( )
2 vota charl08 | Apr 12, 2018 |
I think there is something very appealing about books with the names of the characters in the title. Miss Boston and Miss Hargreaves spoke to me of the people within, it made me curious as to what their story would be.

Elsie Boston lives at Starlight and runs the farm there single-handedly. It's wartime and she is under more scrutiny because of the importance of farms during that period. She takes on a land girl, Miss Hargreaves, who is less a girl than a woman, with quite a back story. This character is based on the author's own grandmother, a story which is fascinating.

Over 20-30 years these two women form a strong alliance, one that we are left to draw our own conclusions about. It's a touching relationship, a happy friendship. Until something quite shocking happens to shake their very existence, something that I could never have imagined would happen.

This is a gentle, touching, yet surprising tale. So much is implied in the writing, and yet I thought it was quite easy to know just what was implied. This is a testament to Malik's writing style that she was able to achieve this.

I don't think this is a book that should be rushed, indeed it cannot be rushed. Given that it's under 300 pages I was expecting to finish it a little quicker than I did but I just couldn't plough through it and needed to give it the time it deserved.

I think I most of all enjoyed reading about the day to day lives of these ladies. They didn't have much but they made the most of what they did have and lived a simple existence. Until all of a sudden they are forced to share their private lives with the world. The final third or so of the book is set around a trial in Winchester and is slightly different in pace, for both the characters and the reader.

I enjoyed this book for the most part and found it very interesting and very well-written. Every now and then my interest waned slightly - perhaps the detail was a little bit much or it was a little too gentle for my tastes. Overall, though, it's a lovely tender love story and a very accomplished debut for Rachel Malik. ( )
  nicx27 | Jan 29, 2018 |
It is hard to write a review of a book I loved as much as I loved this one, a part of me just wants to tell you to buy it immediately. I haven’t read many novels published this year and this was an impulse buy, when it arrived I decided I wanted to read it right away.

Miss Boston and Miss Hargreaves is Rachel Malik’s debut novel, and it is a hugely impressive beginning to what I can only suppose will be a very successful publishing career. The story is based heavily on the life of the author’s maternal grandmother; Rene Hargreaves. While the author makes it quite clear that this is a work of fiction, she kept the names the same and all the incidents in the book seem to have come straight from Rene’s life – and it is a wonderful story spanning more than twenty years.

Miss Boston and Miss Hargreaves is the story of two unconventional women, who are brought together by a world gone mad. Elsie Boston is a farmer, working the farm her father signed over to her, the best she can, her brothers killed in the first World War, her sisters have left to get married and as another war gets under way she is alone at Starlight, happy in her solitude and with the animals and the land she loves. In 1940, Elsie applies for a landgirl to help out, gets the spare room ready, nervous about having another person in the house.

Rene Hargreaves arrives, a little older than Elsie had expected, she is a city woman, a widow drawn to work on the land like Elsie. Rene’s past is more complex than Elsie realises at first, she carries the shadows of it with her, never quite escaping her own sense of guilt.

Rene and Elsie come to understand one another quickly, they develop an easy way of life together, playing patience, doing jigsaws and listening to the wireless in the evenings after the work of the farm is done.

“Only last night there had been bombing, heavy enough, far enough away to have them rush out into the dark. They climbed to the very top of the hill, and turning their backs on Lambourn and the valley, they had watched the bright come and go and heard the rumbling and spitting of the bombs, like distant weather. Unable to do anything but stand and wait, they watched as a glow built slowly on the horizon – Portsmouth or Southampton, Colonel Pinkie thought, for he was out there too. They had felt quite jittery and oddly excited, but then a plane shrieked over Inkpen Hill.
‘Close shave, close shave,’ called Colonel Pinkie
‘Whose is it?’ shouted Rene
‘Don’t know, doesn’t matter.’
And then Elsie and Rene had rushed into the dark, into the house, frightened but laughing all the same.”

There is s night time expedition to the White Horse carved into the hillside, covered with turf because of the war the pair uncover it walk down the hill to gaze at it and walk back up to cover it back up, they laugh and swap confidences. Soon the two women can’t imagine a life a part. Rene is warm and sociable, has a great love of cinema, and slowly she begins to change Elsie, helping her overcome her almost crippling shyness.

Together they endure sadness and hardship; a conniving neighbour helps the Ministry for Agricultural take Starlight from Elsie, so he can get his hands on the land – there is nothing they can do. Determined to work the land they love and stay together; the pair become itinerant farm workers and move from farm to farm across the country – starting in Cumbria and ending in Cornwall in the late 1950s. It is a hard life – they no longer have the comfort of their wireless, though they do get to live in a series of tiny farm cottages, dividing the household tasks between them. Sometimes Rene has to work away at other farms, looking forward to Friday evening when she comes home. This though is nothing to the battles that lie ahead of them.

As they begin to think of settling for good at Wheal Rock in a small Cornish community, with a dog a cat and a wireless, part of Rene’s past arrives, threatening their way of life – and much more. Their lives will be turned upside down, held up for examination by the media, and subject to a high-profile court case.

“At dusk though, the exterior began to change: the chimney smoke wreathed and twisted against the darkening sky, the rickety extensions turned opaque and the dishevelled garden grew blurry and indistinct. By the time it was dark and the lamps glowed orange in the windows, the cottage seemed invulnerable. Rene loved returning when it was dark, her first sight of the lights through the trees as she cycled up the lane. Coming home: Elsie in the kitchen window, standing at the sink, washing, waiting. Sometimes it felt to Rene as if they would always live at Wheal Rock; it was foolish, but sometimes she couldn’t help herself.”

What I particularly loved about this book was how strongly rooted in the British countryside it is, showing a fierce love and understanding for the countryside and the lives lived by agricultural workers. The relationship between Elsie and Rene is sensitively and delicately portrayed – we never know exactly how far their relationship progressed, whether they in fact were lovers – it doesn’t matter at all – their commitment to their shared way of life is what is important.

To think, that this incredible story was hidden away inside Rachel Malik’s family history, waiting for her to discover it. What an exciting discovery it must have been, and how lucky we are that she chose to share it in this way. (Oh, and the cover art for this hardback edition is just perfect). ( )
  Heaven-Ali | Nov 11, 2017 |
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A story of the land, friendship and of secret lives. When Rene Hargreaves is billeted to Starlight Farm as a Land Girl, far from the city where she grew up, she finds farmer Elsie Boston and her country ways strange at first. Yet over the days and months Rene and Elsie come to understand and depend on each other. Soon they can no longer imagine a life apart. But a visitor from Rene's past threatens the life they have built together, a life that has always kept others at a careful distance. Soon they are involved in a war of their own that endangers everything and will finally expose them to the nation's press and the full force of the law.

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