Today I’m pleased to be sharing my review for The Charity of Strangers, part of the final date of the blog tour, courtesy of Rachel’s Random Resources
Nineteen year old Zaffron had been on her own for years after shocking events caused her to run away into a life of homelessness and drugs. After overcoming substance abuse and mental health issues, she was living in a squat, trying to get her life into some sort of order. She kept her room clean and made it as nice as possible amid the chaos of the rest of the building. Desperate for something warm and smart to wear at the interview she was hoping to get, she went into a charity shop with the intention of stealing a coat.
The changing cubicle was at the far end of the shop. It was right next to the counter, but the woman serving customers was too busy even to glance in her direction when she strolled up there, went inside, closed the curtain and took off her jacket. The long, black coat was soft and warm. When she put it on and turned to the mirror, she saw herself, Zaffron James, nineteen years old and a long term no-hoper, transformed into the kind of girl she saw walking in and out of big offices where they had posh jobs, earned good money and had a different life from hers.
Going into the charity shop that day changed the course of Zaffron’s life and gave her new motivation as well as a small circle of good friends, some of whom are also struggling with sadness and secrets.
Volunteering anywhere hadn’t entered her head until, on the pretext of getting her old jacket back she offered to help out as the shop was short staffed. The ladies in the shop were so nice to Zaffron that she felt guilty, and scared she might be confronted about the coat. She managed to retrieve her jacket and make her escape. Despite realising what Zaffron had be up to, the two volunteers decided to give her a chance when she returned.
I had no idea what to expect from this book but it turned out to be an engrossing read which flowed well and, as secrets and lies were revealed, I was invested in the characters and how their stories would unfold, particularly those of Zaffron and Blaire.
The Charity of Strangers covers several relevant topics including homelessness, poverty, the will to survive despite the odds and kindness. Well defined, damaged and complex characters are depicted realistically and I loved the relationship that developed between Blaire and Zaffron. A poignant and sensitively written story.
You can find almost anything in a charity shop, but can you find love?
You can certainly find friendship and there is both laughter and tears ahead when 19yr old Zaffron, lonely, anxious and without direction, meets Blaire Daintry, good-looking, charming, and gay.
Both volunteers in the charity shop, he has a hidden agenda, she has secrets, but they are friends from the start, despite Blaire’s constant sparring with Ida, the stern, good-hearted older volunteer who Zaffron admires. And perhaps Ida has secrets too.
Together with other victims of the city’s housing crisis, Blaire and Zaffron set up a safe and happy home. Secure at last, she tells him of the dreadful incident in her childhood that has marred her life, but not even his total acceptance gives her the confidence to start a relationship with an attractive and decent young army sergeant who falls in love with her.
Is it fear of the truth coming out that holds her back? Or is there some other reason, buried too deep in her heart for her to recognise?
About the Author
I was born and grew up in Lancashire, gained several nursing qualifications and had the privilege of a long and varied nursing career, briefly in the Royal Army Nursing Service abroad, mainly in the NHS in UK. True love and a happy family came my way and now I have the time to read, write and remember.