In this book we follow 16-year-old Evie as she finds herself at a crossroads in life, deciding what it is she wants to do next and what kind of Woman she wants to be. It’s 1962 and the world away from her father’s farm in East Yorkshire is calling to her. But Evie is a damsel in distress: her family home and her relationship with her father is threatened by her soon to be wicked step-mother, Christine. Evie turns to her next-door neighbour Mrs Scott-Pym for help and rescue soon arrives behind the wheel of a bright red Mini.
‘Oh, Cinderella,’ says Christine, coming over to the sink. ‘Don’t worry, one day you shall go to the ball!’ She laughs, clearly very pleased with her joke. ‘But not tonight. You’d love bingo, though. Number three, cup of tea,’ she shouts, going all theatrical. ‘Sweet sixteen, never been kissed. Forty four, droopy drawers. See, it’s made for you.’ She crosses her arms, smirking. ‘It’s all part of growing up and becoming a woman, you know.’
Not to me it isn’t. I can’t think of anything worse than sitting in a room for two hours and competitively listening to numbers. Is this what lies ahead of me? There must be more to being a Woman than Wednesday night bingo.The Miseducation of Evie Epworth
To say the book starts with an incident of bestiality, it is very uplifting and joyful, and Evie’s comments and observations had me chuckling from start to finish. Her descriptions of people are particularly funny, including one character who is likened to “a leaking barrel of questions” and another who is the human version of a sausage roll.
As a Yorkshire lass myself I also love any book that refers to my county’s finest things including Bettys Tearoom (a Yorkshire institution), Fat Rascals (the greatest treat there is), as well as shopping trips to Leeds (the Corn Exchange! The Headrow!). Each of the characters have such strong Yorkshire-ways, from Vera and Mrs Swithenbank to Evie’s dad Arthur, it is packed full of Yorkshire charm.
The book also tells the story of Arthur and Evie’s mum, and we slowly learn the tragic story of what happened to Diana; her death being one of the most shocking moments in the book.
Reading about Matson Taylor in the author’s biography, it mentions that he works as a design historian and academic writing tutor at the V&A, Imperial College and the Royal College of Art where he writes about “beaded flapper dresses and Second World War glow-in-the-dark fascinators” (never have I been more jealous of someone’s job), and reading the book there are some wonderful descriptions of clothes. From Christine’s obsession with pink (“the colour palette of a box of fondant fancies”) to another character’s chic caramel-coloured skirt and blouse worn with “a thin belt on her tiny waist with a red-and-blue silk scarf neatly tied around her neck.” As Evie comments, this woman is glorious and “as out of place in our village as an Eskimo.”
I thoroughly enjoyed this book with its loveable (and not so loveable but you love to hate them) characters, the references to the sixties (including those nice four boys from Liverpool), the clothes, and of course Evie herself. All with a little dollop of Yorkshire magic.