Publisher: Hot Key Books
Genre: Historical, Contemporary
Release Date: January 26th 2017
Buy The Book: Book Depository
Sometimes love has to cross all kinds of barriers . . .
Fliss is on the way to visit her grandmother in Wales - the grandmother who she doesn't get on with - with her mother who is recuperating from chemotherapy. But her mum is getting better, that's the main thing, so Fliss can concentrate on being grouchy and not looking forward to meeting her grandmother Margot, who is so cold and always so unforgiving of Fliss's every mistake . . . But when the six months is up, Fliss consoles herself, she and her mum will go back to London and back to Real Life!
In the meantime Fliss needs to get used to her new school, not upset the scary girls, and just keep her head down (whilst still making sure that everybody knows she is from London, of course). Then Fliss discovers a diary at the back of her bookcase. It is from the 1940s and is set in World War II, and, Fliss realises, is actually Margot's diary from when she was a young woman during the Blitz. Intrigued, Fliss begins to read. There she discovers a whole new side to Margot, a wartime romance and also Margot's deepest, most buried secret. And it is then that Fliss discovers something terrible in her own life that she is going to have to come to terms with...
I read this story throughout January with my fellow members of The Book Club! We also had a Twitter chat about it at the end of the month, which you can catch up on by searching for the #BCChat hashtag.
This book, guys. This book. I'm in awe. From the moment I heard about it, I knew it was my kind of thing. Split between 1998 and a 1940's diary? It called out to me. Margot & Me follows fifteen-year-old Fliss as she moves to a farm in Wales that belongs to her grandmother (who will only go by Margot, she won't be having any of that nan or gran stuff, thank you very much). Fliss believes that she'll be living there for about six months whilst her mother recovers from cancer. Fliss and Margot don't always get along, and Fliss sees her grandmother as quite a strict and severe person. When Fliss finds Margot's diary in the attic, she begins to see a different version of her, a version that she comes to adore.
Let's start with what a wonderfully realistic character Fliss is. Her emotions, her actions, her ways of thinking were told in an open and honest way that made me root for her throughout. Yes, she was naïve at times and didn't always make the wisest decisions, but that only added to the believability of her character. The difficulties she faced at her new school were sad but true for many students who have to switch schools. But the adorable development of her new friendships were heartwarming to witness.
Whilst Fliss had a gripping story, it was Margot's raw and emotional journey back in 1940 that made this book truly special for me. I don't think I can quite express how much love I had for Margot. She was an incredible character with an attitude well ahead of her time. I don't want to say too much about what she goes through for fear of spoiling it, but her story is an important one and I truly felt for her. She may be a fictional character, but you can bet your house that there were many young women like her who were forced into the same heartbreaking corner.
The final quarter of the story was packed full of emotion, and even though thinking back I can see that the signs of what direction this story would take were there, I wasn't actually expecting it. So I was a complete wreck by the end. The two different parts of the story were beautifully weaved together and wrapped up perfectly, leaving the reader to imagine for themselves what happened after the final page. With a focus on family bonds and important friendships, this book ticked a lot of boxes for me and I'm so glad I got the opportunity to read it.