The Beloved Children is skilfully crafted and delights with every page, every character, every action and a plot that trips the light fantastic with the touch of a master wordsmith.
The central characters, the Three Graces and the surreal, magical wardrobe mistress and her even weirder Russian ragdoll, meet up in Fankes Music Hall in 1940s wartime London. The teenagers’ dancing establishes them in vaudeville as well as the hearts (and elsewhere) of the audiences of servicemen. Author Tina Jackson’s crafted words dance on every page. They flow and wave, weave, dip, bow and curtsey, pirouette, twirl, trip, slip and entice, and always captivate. At the end of every chapter the reader takes a breath and smiles at the audacity of the almost physical movements of the writing. But such choreography requires strict discipline and, while Jackson’s writing is almost florescent, every word has its defined place and role.
Jackson’s characterisation brings wartime London and music hall entertainment to vivid life. There’s brutality, brutal relationships, rampant egos, beauty and style, weird and wonderful characters, heinous crime and retribution, villains and heroes, and the constant threat of a single bomb, physical and metaphysical, falling to obliterate everything and everyone.
Rarely do I pick up a book and read just for the sheer pleasure of experiencing a free-flowing style that knits and sews the plot seamlessly into the lightness of touch. The Beloved Children is a flowing, twisting, turning adventure through blitzed and dangerous London up to the present day.
The Beloved Children is also the only book I’ve read where the word ‘Terpsichorean,’ and its many shortened and linked forms, are used so often and to such great effect.