Title: The Vanishing of Margaret Small by Neil Alexander
Publisher: Embla Books
Date Published: 16th November 2022
Genre: Literary fiction
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.
An absorbing and page-turning mystery with a dual timeline, The Vanishing of Margaret Small takes readers into a fascinating past, and introduces an unforgettable literary heroine.
Perfect for fans of Libby Page and Gail Honeyman.
I want to thank Tracy Fenton and Embla books for my ARC copy of the vanishing of Margaret Small. All opinions are my own.
I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump, so I decided to read out of my usual genre and, having heard such good things about the vanishing of Margaret Small, I thought I’d give it a go.
The vanishing of Margaret Small is a wonderful written story told in dual timelines. The modern day part of the story focuses on Margaret’s life in 2015 just after the death of her idol Cilla Black and she receives letters from a mysterious C. This brings up a lot of memories from her past, which she had tried to block out, from when she was ‘vanished’ as a child and taken to live in St Mary’s, an institution for people with disabilities.
Margaret was a marvellous character who I honestly just wanted to give a big hug to. She was so well written and realistic. Every time I was reading, I felt like I could hear her voice, a bit like she was talking to me through the pages.
She has a tough old time through the story, just because she was born a bit different from the rest of us. I rooted for her to get her happy ending and I’m glad to say that she did, but not in the way I had imagined.
There are some tough subjects covered in the book, particularly around the way people with any form of disability were treated, but the author handles it with compassion and care.
The Vanishing of Margaret Small is an absolute gem of a novel which I’d highly recommend if you enjoy a story with a lovable main character who drives the story.
About The Author:
Much of the inspiration for Neil Alexander’s debut novel, ‘The Vanishing of Margaret Small’, came directly from the voices of people with a learning disability, and the incredibly moving first person accounts of living in long stay institutions, which he heard while working for the UK charity Mencap. Neil, who has a Masters degree in English Literature from the University of Kent at Canterbury, began his career working in health journalism. Originally from Northern Ireland, he now lives in the seaside town of Whitstable in Kent. He currently teaches English part-time and is working on his second novel. You can follow Neil on Twitter @neilalexander_ and Instagram @neilalexanderwriter