The Charity of Strangers – Alison Burke

A touching, poignant, yet heartbreaking novel, tackling difficult topics. A compassionate story about true friendship and about the depth of a mother’s love; a reminder that not everyone returns to a nice warm home at night.

An extraordinary page turner that will capture you in its wake, from the first page to the very last.

How can anyone, as a parent, possibly treat a child the way Zaffron has been treated, forcing her to take the blame for a terrible incident and leaving her as a young child, torn between telling the truth and protecting her Mother?

How can a Mother deal with her child having been taken away from her soon after birth, while she is sleeping off a ‘mickey’?

How can an adult cope with learning how he was taken away from his Mother, as a newborn baby?

I did make the mistake of starting to read this book at bedtime, and became so engrossed in the intertwining strands of the story, that before I knew it, I had been up all night reading. Whilst I don’t recommend staying up all night reading, I do heartily recommend this book.

Zaffron is a broke anorexic living in an awful squat. Her failed attempt at stealing a coat from a charity shop, results in her volunteering to work in said shop for a couple of days per week. It’s here that she meets Blaire, a lovely gay man of indeterminate age. The two become friends.

Blaire and Zaffron end up living together with some others in Zaffron’s squat,, in what Blaire likes to refer to as a ‘housing cooperative’ – basically living together in the squat, but laying the utility bills, in an attempt to prove their residency. All ‘rent’ received is ploughed back into the house in some way, very it gsintebance it just The pair talk about Zaffron’s past, but it is clear that she is still harbouring some dark secrets. Martin, a soldier/shop customer leaves his number for her, but is Zaffron mentally up to a romantic relationship?

Zaffron is buoyed up by the thought of her application for the Deputy Manager position at the charity shop. Could this be her chance to come off benefits, or will someone else apply and scupper her chances?

Meanwhile, Ida who also works in the charity shop has a heart attack, leading to her Sister, Beverley, revealing the tragedy that Ida subjected her to at the age of 19! Another life changing tragedy for all involved, with Blaire being more involved than we initially realise.

Please read this highly recommended book for yourself, to find out the ending!


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