In Beryl Kingston’s latest novel, we follow the life of Rosie Goodison, from the day she sets out to become a nursemaid at Arundel Castle, at the age of 12. She is told that she is, “nobody of consequence,” but she is a strong independent girl of the early 20th century and she is determined to take on everything she can attain. A few years later she finds a temporary job as housekeeper to two young toffs on holiday from Eton and when one of them gives her a reference to take to the RAC club in Pall Mall, she has no idea that his signature, Anthony Eden, will be of significance in the future.
On her afternoon off she meets Kitty, a young suffragette, whose brother Joe is a docker. Soon Rosie meets them regularly, increasing her political understanding as well as enjoying trips to Music Halls. Romance blossoms as war approaches and both Rosie’s brother, Tommy, and her sweetheart, Joe, become soldiers. There is tragedy and there are life-changing consequences.
But we first meet Rosie in a painting in an art gallery many years later, so how did that happen? While working at the RAC club, Rosie had made the acquaintance of a young artist who wished her to model for him and when she finds herself unemployed at a difficult time in her life, Rosie agrees.
This novel is a superb description of southern England from the turn of the century until 1939. Through the lives of poor families in the countryside and in London, the struggle to succeed and even to survive, despite war, unemployment and hardship, is shown clearly. Rosie’s warm, vibrant character makes each event human and I identified strongly with her hopes and wishes for her family. She embodies the title, “Everybody’s Somebody.”
Everybody’s Somebody can be found on Amazon UK