I so very much needed this book I was stuck in the middle of a reading slump and along came Charity Delafield turning the world that little bit brighter.The Haunting of Charity Delafield leaves you with a warm fuzzy feeling, it s beautifully written and the story comes alive as you read it in a way only the best stories do.Charity is about to turn 13, she s never met from outside the household and her only friend is Mr Tompkins, a black cat with bright green eyes.Charity s life is regimented because of her condition Charity doesn t know what her condition is, neither does she know what the why the West Wing is off limits but that doesn t stop her dreams or hearing the music in the middle of the night.In a perfect world this is the book someone reads to you while you re snuggled up under the covers with a teddybear and hot chocolate as it was I read it to myself with a teddybear of course and a cup of tea, but you get the sentiment I might not be the target audience for this book but that doesn t change how much I adored it. Review at Beck has written for everything from magazines to children s books, and also illustrated many well loved books as well as other interesting projects such as the National Theatre production programme for Philip Pullman s His Dark Materials theatre adaptation and the 10th anniversary edition books Ian Beck is a man who knows not just how to write, but how to write well and The Haunting of Charity Delafield is definitely a wonderful novel for children.From start to finish I liked every character I encountered, even Charity s controlling father because despite his apparent harshness you could see that he loved her However I can t say that I loved any of the characters At times the characters felt a little under developed and we know little about them, as if they are simply there to serve the plot Although there is not anything necessarily wrong with that, it did cause some moment to feel a little flat and at times certain characters, such as Charity s father, seem to make snap decisions without any real clues as to why.The setting of The Haunting of Charity Delafield is perfect The huge, Victorian mansion set within snowy grounds and surrounded by a strange, ancient forest is gorgeous and makes this a wonderful book to read around Christmas time The links between the house, forest and Charity are woven into the story and lots of little hints are dropped in throughout the book, but many seem insignificant until later on which adds a magical edge The Victorian setting is not overwhelming for a child who may know little about the period, and it is great to find a fantasy story such as this set in the 1900s, a time when many people still believed in ancient spirits, ghosts and fairies My favourite thing about the book would have to be its gorgeous cover, also illustrated by Ian Beck, and it was his own painting of a firey haired little Victorian girl in the snow that inspired The Haunting of Charity Delafield, and even the cover has a magical air about it.From the outset we know that something isn t quite right about the house and that our main protagonist, Charity, is a unique little girl However I started the book expecting a haunting, I was waiting for a Victorian ghost story for children but found a very different story instead That is not to say that I was disappointed The story is intriguing and very appealing for younger readers, however it does take a while to get going Luckily just as my interest started to waver the excitement picked up, but then things slowed again I didn t feel any real sense of urgency until very near the end of the book The last quarter of the book is very exciting as everything falls into place However at the same time it is because of this that I felt the ending was a little rushed I was also frustrated that everything is explained away and that everyone just accepts it It is understandable for Charity to accept the magic of the story because of how she is as a character, but her father has a very quick change of heart Everything is forgiven and forgotten very quickly which seemed a little unrealistic and I have always, even as a child, found it frustrating when a problem was solved or even avoided by magic because it seems dismissive and too easy.Magic is deftly woven into the pages of The Haunting of Charity Delafield and creates a very special story that I am sure many children will love However they will need some patience to stick with it If they do then they will be rewarded with a heart warming story about family, love, inner strength and magic. Flame Haired Charity Delafield Has Grown Up In A Vast, Isolated House Most Of Which She Is Forbidden To Explore With Her Fiercely Strict Father With Only Her Kindly Nurse, Rose, And Her Cat Mr Tompkins For Company, She Knows Very Little Of The Outside World Or Of Her Own Family S Shadowy Past What She Does Know Is That She Is NEVER To Go Outside Unsupervised And She Is NEVER To Over Excite Herself, Because Of The Mysterious Condition That She Has Been Told She Suffers FromBut Charity Has A Secret All Her Life, She Has Had The Same Strange Dream A Dream Of A Dark Corridor, Hidden Somewhere In The House Then, One Day, Charity Stumbles Across The Corridor It Leads To A Door And Suddenly She Realises Things Are Not Quite What They Seem Read this book in 2016, I want to reread it The Haunting of Charity Delafield is a beautiful book with fairytale like qualities which make is a completely charming read right from the first word through to the very last I enjoyed it thoroughly.From the very outset you fall straight in love with Charity as a character who is essentially a very lonely little girl having spent her entire life living within the confines of the grounds of a giant house, half of which is locked up and out of bounds, talking to no one except the house keeping staff employed by her Father Therefore her view on the world as she sees it is quite unique One morning she is told by her father that she will shortly be sent to live at a boarding school near Cromer on the North Norfolk Coast for her education which throws her entirely On a totally geeky note I loved the idea that there was a castle esque boarding school near Cromer in this book I want it to be built tomorrow and move in The main story finally starts after two events The first is when she meets a mysterious old lady at the fence of her house who gives her a cryptic message to do with Charity s Mother whom she has been lead to believe is dead and the second is when she finds a key that opens part of the house that has been out of bounds as long as Charity can remember In there she finds an ultra creepy cot with a pair of scissors dangling over directly over it, a strange diary and a portrait of her mother This leads her to a series of events which leads her on a quest to find out about her mysterious and absent mother which she has to do in secret so not to anger her very strict father.All the characters you meet along the way are interesting for a whole variety of reasons and well written and I enjoyed meeting all of them but I particularly liked the relationship Charity built up with her first ever friend Silas.The ending of the book, which I don t want to give much away about, went in a completely different direction than what I ever thought it was going to take which was fantastic as I often find books can be entirely too predictable which this wasn t.Definitely a book I would recommend to others as it is a charming, well written and beautifully fairtale esque. Filled with mystery, adventure, and magic, this book is one of my favorites Here s an approximate summary until about the middle The book is about a 12 almost 13 year old girl named Charity Delafield She lives an enclosed life in her father s mansion, Stone Green Hall Her mother, Ariella Delafield, died in childbirth, or so she believes Charity has a maid named Rose, who dresses her and brushes her hair 75 times a day Some other servants are Mrs Brown who has worked at Stone Green Hall for forever, and Edward, who shovels the snow, and likes Rose a bit than he d like to admit Winter comes, bringing cold and snow One day, when Rose and Edward take her outside Mr Delafield wants Charity strictly supervised at all times, and she isn t allowed to go past the iron gates that bar her from the outside world she meets an old woman who claims she knew her mother, or well, still knows her mother The old woman, called Sarah, says that it isn t true that her mother died in childbirth In fact, she is still living Soon after, Charity makes her first friend He s the sweep s you, Silas They set up meetings at night, and Silas gets in through the chimney But then her father reveals some horrible news Charity is to go to a school, far away Charity is horrified by the idea, and even the servants don t exactly think it was Mr Delafield s brightest idea For the first time, before she goes away, Charity is allowed to PLAY with Rose and Edward, and Charity has her first hide and seek game Then she finds something connected to her mother Her diary She just had to share it with Silas, but when they try and read the words, they blow off the page It s all very mysterious, but Charity is sure of one thing, that it s MAGIC The next night Silas tries to meet her, he notices something strange There are WORDS in the chimney Charity goes o with Silas and starts reading She makes an amazing discovery the words from the diary had come up the chimney She reads and reads and then comes back down Silas notices another strange thing, while he is covered in soot, Charity is spotless Ian Beck creates a suspenseful atmosphere, while still making it not too heavy, but just enough mystery, with lines like Like Cinderella, she had stepped in the old ash in the grate, and he had been pulled up and down inside the dirty chimney, yet there was no trace of soot on her She suddenly remembered Mr Kawkins, the sweep, running his hand over the rug after Silas had cleaned up with the little lacquer dustpan and brush, looking for any telltale trace of soot There had been none then , and there had been none now Had Silas somehow managed to clean everything in the dark without her noticing Impossible I loved this book and I hope if you read it, you will too. I was very kindly given this book to read as part of a blog tour a while ago It took me a while to get around to reading the book, and to be honest I knew it was aimed to younger readers so I wasn t expecting much from it Though I was pleasantly surprised when I finished it.The book follows Charity, who has spent all of her young life locked away at home She has never been outside of the gates in her garden and has never known her mother Curiosity soon gets the better of her though and she goes exploring in her huge home and starts to uncover some strange objects that may be linked to her mother.Charity has also been told that she suffers from a strange illness, and never to over exert herself Although she has never been told the exact nature of her supposed illness After befriending a local chimney sweep boy who comes to the house one day, Charity is determined to get outside and see what the world has to offer She also wants to discover the truth about herself and her strange illness that her father refuses to talk about.The writing in the book is simple and easy to get through, like I said it is aimed at a younger audience than what I usually read To me that fact made the book seem quicker to get through and completely immersed me into Charity s world I did like the fairy element to the book, that is something I never really saw coming.Overall it was a light and quick read and I did enjoy it. I chose to read The Haunting Of Charity Delafield because it was in a goodie bag at the Writers Festival 2015, so I read the back and it seemed interesting enough to make me want to read it I really enjoyed this book and found it hooked me in because of the many magical whimsical ideas the author had, and it was a mystery book written in such a way that I couldn t put it down instead I had to keep reading as Charity discovered the secrets of her past, and her mothers past Something new I learnt while reading this book is that sometimes, in the long run, it s better to push the boundaries break the rules as you could end up fixing something that has been broken a very long time making yourself or someone else better I also learnt that sometimes asking questions can lead to mysteries, instead of answers, so sometimes you have to figure out how to ask them yourself A character that was interesting to me was Charity s Mother, as so little was said about her throughout the book when in fact she was a very important character She was also interesting as as Charity discovered and about her past, her Mothers secrets found a way to be told too. Borrowed from the library after finding positive reviews on my Goodreads feed It was rather a quick read, but the entirety was well paced, and the writing quite elegant at times Beck moves his tale along nicely, and creates a cast of believable characters which any child or adult, let s face it is sure to be captivated by It put me in mind of Emma Carroll s lovely Frost Hollow Hall, and Tom s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce A clever plot with rather a cliched ending, that thankfully didn t detract too much from the whole. Beautiful cover Story awkwardly stitched, common place narrative and awkward dialogues.
Ian Archibald Beck born 1947 in Brighton is an English children s illustrator and author In addition to his numerous children s books, he is also most famous for his cover illustration on Elton John s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album He has sold than a million copies of his books worldwide.
- 288 pages
- The Haunting of Charity Delafield
- Ian Beck
- 16 September 2019 Ian Beck