Book #44

The Vanishing of Margaret Small by Neil Alexander

Meet Margaret Small: 75, plain spoken and a Cilla Black super fan. Shortly after the death of her idol, Margaret begins receiving sums of money in the post, signed simply 'C'.

She is convinced it must be Cilla, but how can it be? To solve the mystery of her benefactor Margaret must go back in her memories almost 70 years, to the time when she was 'vanished' to a long-stay institution for children with learning disabilities.

Oh Margaret, I would move mountains for you. You are one of the most endearing characters I have met in a long time, and Alexander has written you in such a way that I must protect you at all costs. Your obstacles in life, your joys and sorrows, all combined to create such a wonderful person, and reading your story was an incredible honour. Yes, I know you are fictional, but since finishing your story I often hope you’re doing well. That’s the power of a wonderful author.

We follow Margaret’s life along two timelines - present day, then flicking back to her childhood when she was taken to a home for children with additional needs. Her life has been filled with trials, and yet she remains one of the brightest, and kindest, characters I’ve ever met.

Margaret is a huge Cilla Black fan, and soon begins to receive letters from ‘C’. Convinced this is indeed Cilla, Margaret pulls us into her quest to have those around her believe what she’s telling them, and to discover who the mystery letter writer is. I was heartbroken to discover I hadn’t believed Margaret either, and that each of us have our own predispositions no matter how much we don’t want them.

I truly loved this novel and being allowed to meet Margaret. An astounding debut, a happy sad experience, and one which I will remember for a while to come.