What I Read: The Misadventures of Margaret Finch by Claire McGlasson

This historical fiction novel follows the life of Margaret Finch, a young woman who works as an observer for a mysterious research organisation in Blackpool in the 1930s.

“She had always been a watcher, a listener, a collector of other people’s stories. She had a knack for blending into the background, for being invisible. She was a human sponge, soaking up the details of life around her.”

Margaret is a shy and lonely character, who feels out of place in the world and struggles with her past. She becomes fascinated by the controversial figure of Harold Davidson, a former rector who was defrocked for his involvement with prostitutes and who now performs as a lion tamer in a circus.

“He was a man of contradictions, a paradox. He was both saint and sinner, hero and villain, martyr and madman. He was a man who had fallen from grace, but who still believed in redemption. He was a man who had dared to challenge the establishment, but who had paid a heavy price for it. He was a man who had loved many women, but who had lost the one he loved most. He was a man who had tamed lions, but who could not tame himself.”

Margaret is determined to find out the truth about Davidson and his motives, but she also has to face her own secrets and fears.

“She realised that she had been living in a bubble, a cocoon, a shell. She realised that she had been hiding from the world, from herself, from the truth. She realised that she had been wasting her life, her potential, her gifts. She realised that she had been missing out on so much, on adventure, on passion, on love. She realised that she had to change, to grow, to blossom. She realised that she had to live.”

The novel is well-written and richly detailed, creating a vivid picture of Blackpool in the late 1930s, with its seaside attractions, social classes, and looming threat of war. The author uses real historical events and characters, such as the research organisation Mass Observation and the scandalous Davidson, to create a realistic and intriguing backdrop for the story. The novel also explores themes such as identity, morality, sexuality, and love, through the complex and nuanced characters of Margaret and Davidson.

“She felt a surge of emotion, a mixture of pity and admiration, of curiosity and fear. She felt drawn to him, to his story, to his mystery. She felt a connection, a kinship, a bond. She felt something she had never felt before. She felt alive.”

The Misadventures of Margaret Finch by Claire McGlasson is a gem of a book, that will appeal to fans of historical fiction, mystery, and romance.

With thanks to Jonathan Ball Publishers for the opportunity to read this book.

About the author