There are so many elements in this book that come together to make it the success that it is. Set in the 1920s, it spans the childhoods of Cristabel, Flossie and Digby – set in the crumbling family Manor House in Chilcombe, on the Dorset coast.

The book follows the trio as they navigate dysfunctional parenting, summertime adventures and discover a love of performing plays amidst the backdrop of a beautiful countryside setting.

There’s an air of nostalgia for Summer childhoods at times. As the book progresses into World War II breaking out, the trio are split up and the storyline follows their journeys. Here, the pace of the book picks up and it’s an astonishingly quick read to the conclusion.

The setting, the characters and the storyline are woven together to create a remarkable debut novel with a mature, established writing style – at the same time the right amount of humour and emotion are injected throughout too. Mystery, intrigue and so much more make this book a huge success.

About the Book

‘Maudie, why are all the best characters men?’
Maudie closes the book with a clllump. ‘We haven’t read all the books yet, Miss Cristabel. I can’t believe that every story is the same’

Cristabel Seagrave has always wanted her life to be a story, but there are no girls in the books in her dusty family library. For an unwanted orphan who grows into an unmarriageable young woman, there is no place at all for her in a traditional English manor.

But from the day that a whale washes up on the beach at the Chilcombe estate in Dorset, and twelve-year-old Cristabel plants her flag and claims it as her own, she is determined to do things differently.

With her step-parents blithely distracted by their endless party guests, Cristabel and her siblings, Flossie and Digby, scratch together an education from the plays they read in their freezing attic, drunken conversations eavesdropped through oak-panelled doors, and the esoteric lessons of Maudie their maid.

But as the children grow to adulthood and war approaches, jolting their lives on to very different tracks, it becomes clear that the roles they are expected to play are no longer those they want. As they find themselves drawn into the conflict, they must each find a way to write their own story…

About The Author

Joanna Quinn was born in London and grew up in Dorset, in the southwest of England, where her debut novel, The Whalebone Theatre, is set.

Joanna has worked in journalism and the charity sector. She is also a short-story writer, published by The White Review and Comma Press, among others. She teaches creative writing and lives in a village near the sea in Dorset.

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