From Publishers Weekly
After Criminals and The Missing World, it should be no surprise that the immensely talented Livesey continues to juxtapose strange events with mundane daily activities, sending a jolt through her ordinary characters and settings. The wonder is that she can draw readers into her world so gently that the barriers between reality and the fantastic quickly fall. The first time the narrator Eva McEwen sees her "companions" she is six, and living near the Scottish town of Troon with her middle-aged father and her aunt, who came to raise Eva after her mother died in childbed. Though much loved, Eva is lonely, and when a woman who "shone as if she had been dipped in silver" and a young girl with long braids and freckles appear one afternoon in the garden, she is at first unaware that they are not corporeal. The companions, as she comes to call them, are not visible to others, however, and their purpose in her life seems unclear. Twice they save her from fatal harm; twice they destroy a romance; often they are comforting; sometimes they signal their presence by moving furniture. Eva works as a nurse in a Glasgow infirmary during WWII, but the burden of her secret keeps her from achieving intimacy with anyone. When she does confide in a man she loves, a brilliant surgeon, heartbreak ensues. She seeks solace in her mother's native village of Glenaird, where she marries and has a daughter. But in a poignant denouement, the significance of the companions is made clear. With remarkable control, Livesey presents the companions in matter-of-fact detail, eschewing frissons of horror and providing a lucid explanation of their presence. Her restraint and delicacy, and the reader's identification with the appealing Eva, result in a haunting drama. Agent, Amanda Urban. (Sept.)Forecast: An author tour and strong word of mouth should spark this novel's sales. Every mother who yearns to protect her child will relate to Eva and react emotionally to Livesey's moving story.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
In a departure from her psychological tales full of menacing undercurrents (Homework, The Missing World), Livesey's latest outing is a deceptively simple coming-of-age story set in small-town Scotland between the wars. Eva McEwen, whose mother dies in childbirth, is lovingly raised by her father and aunt. What sets this ordinary tale slightly off kilter is the presence in Eva's life of two ghosts ("the companions," as she refers to them) a girl and a woman whom, she realizes very early on, only she can see. Although it is clear that the companions are there more for her protection than to cause harm, they seem capable of manipulating events in her life. From Eva's bucolic childhood through young adulthood, working first as an office girl and later as a wartime nurse, from a failed romance to a happy marriage and motherhood, her angel/ghosts are never far away, helping to steer her. But, in the end, as they repeatedly warn her, they are unable to change the course of her history. While it may take some Livesey fans by surprise, this lovely, bittersweet novel should find a warm place in their hearts.- Barbara Love, Kingston Frontenac P.L., Ont.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.