Having said that, what Darkling is really about is how difficult it is to grow up when every adult around you is pursuing their own agenda, and your wants and needs are pretty far down the list. Heroine Jenny is in the tradition of Ruth of Fly-by-Night: she's a working class girl, with a family K M Peyton has plunged into a dark and dramatic poverty. Jenny's father suffered a terrible accident which has left him unable to move or talk, and now her mother, Bridie, looks after him. Bridie is terribly, and at times stridently, angry. She is never tender, never kind. Her whole life seems to be one giant cry of rage against the accident to her husband; social services; their landlord and neighbour Jackboots Strawson, and her father. She is a martyr, but her martyrdom only increases her rage. Her children all long to leave home.
|Doubleday, first edition, 1989|
|Corgi, paperback, 1991|
This book is a testament to how someone can grow up as a decent human being despite the appalling behaviour of the adults around them. It also makes one despair at the arrant selfishness so many of the people in Jenny's life display, which makes the unquenchable spirit Jenny, and Goddard's younger brother, Straw, display, all the more remarkable. You can't help but root for them.
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Darkling was originally published by Doubleday in 1989. It appeared in a paperback edition published by Corgi, and has now been republished by Random House (2013) in a cover which appears identical to the Corgi.
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For much more on K M Peyton, she has a section on my website.