The Secret by Elizabeth Clarke
London : Faber and Faber, 1972. First British Edition. Hardcover. 126 pages ; 22 cm. Price clipped dust jacket. Pages are clean and unmarked. Binding strong.
In the remote hills of mid-Wales a girl finds a deserted farmhouse with its door half open.
'If I'd just been able to say,' she told her brother afterwards, ' "I have taken possession of an empty house. It has two rooms, a stable and no mod. cons.," it might all have been different. . . .' But she could not.
Secretly installing herself in her spare time, soon she discovers that someone else is already in occupation, and certain other creatures are using it as a refuge, as well. Faced with the misunderstandings due to sharing, at last she has to appeal to her aunt, an eccentric who is putting her up for the holidays, and who advises her typically, 'Mingle with the crowd. Learn to make the right noises and you'll pick up suitable responses.' Almost in the same breath she owns that she herself has never found the way to fit in, and her niece catches sight of her from an entirely new angle, solitary as a castaway.
The book is about privacy, companionship and the mysteries of communication.
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