Even the approach to Christmas fails to excite restless Agnes Conway, the twenty-two-year-old manager of the sweet and tobacconist shops owned by her feckless father. There are dark secrets in Arthur Conway's past, and these come tragically to light when Agnes' younger sister falls pregnant by one of the notorious Felton brothers. And Agnes herself has a secret, which she knows she must keep from her father: her relationship with Charles Farrier, son of a local landowner, who outrages his own wealthy, pious family by proposing marriage. However Charles is not the only man who could shape Agnes' furture, as his brother Reginald makes no secret of his admiration for her. But she could not have foreseen how significant a part he is to play in her destiny. "The Wingless Bird" is an absorbing story of love and the harsh realities of Britain's class system.
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(178mm x 106mm x 32mm)
Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd
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US Kirkus Review »
Cookson's in her old-timey stride again after the surprisingly slow guttering of The Black Candle (1990). Once more, here's the Tyne-wide Newcastle gender gap - men strong and nasty, flawed but good; women of various degrees of fortitude and marked for victimhood. And there are those iron class-barriers - over which the Good Male pursuing the Honest-as-lye-soap Heroine will leap in a single bound. The Conway household in Newcastle is simmering in discontent. Mother Alice is verbally assaulted by husband Arthur, day after day. Arthur is owner of a tobacco-and-sweet shop, where toils underpaid daughter Agnes. Meanwhile, daughter Jessie, the one groomed by Arthur for gentility, pines after suitor Robbie Felton - from "the roughest family on the quay" - and Agnes continues to dream of faraway places. But there's soon to be excitement enough at home. Jessie, of course, is pregnant; Arthur is wild with rage and rampages - at first with a shovel (Robbie is sent to a hospital) and then with a revolver, waved into a crowd of Feltons. Mediator Agnes catches a bullet - but then it's ta-ta to Pa! Agnes now has a fat legacy and learns some stunning family secrets, though she's still staring out a shop window. Coming around and admiring, however, is wealthy, old family Charles Farrier - who's sure love can level ranks. With Alice and Jessie and Robbie all settled and happy, thanks to Agnes, love finds a way. By the time WW I and a scourge of TB have done their worst, Agnes will have loved, married, lost and loved again, the last time to a man crippled by war and with a pride to match Agnes' own. Love and passion - from shop to stately mansion. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Catherine Cookson Charitable Trust
Catherine Cookson was born in Tyne Dock, the illegitimate daughter of a poverty-stricken woman, Kate, whom she believed to be her older sister. She began work in service but eventually moved south to Hastings, where she met and married Tom Cookson, a local grammar-school master. Although she was originally acclaimed as a regional writer - her novel The Round Tower won the Winifred Holtby Award for the best regional novel of 1968 - her readership quickly spread throughout the world, and her many best-selling novels established her as one of the most popular of contemporary women novelists. After receiving an OBE in 1985, Catherine Cookson was created a Dame of the British Empire in 1993. She was appointed an Honorary Fellow of St Hilda's College, Oxford, in 1997. For many years she lived near Newcastle upon Tyne. She died shortly before her ninety-second birthday, in June 1998.