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Claire Shaw
Features Writer
8:38 AM 28th January 2020

Book Review: Oranges And Lemons By Paula F. Andrews

"So cold. And too small and fragile. Have you ever felt it? When a little kid slides their hand into yours? But this was no ordinary kid clutching my hand. This one was dead."

Every good book needs a striking opening and Paula F. Andrews' debut novel for children definitely intrigues the reader. The ghost is six-year-old Victorian, Adeline, who haunts the protagonist, Jessifer Jordan. Jess is a complex character who is loyal and open with a love of acting and pretence at the beginning. However, through her connection with Adeline she transforms into a serious and lonely child in her quest to discover Adeline's secret.

Suddenly Jess find herself whisked back to 1863 where she falls into the clutches of a volatile doctor obsessed with morphine. As she journeys back and forth between the past and the present, Jess realises that Adeline reminds her of her dead sister and her submerged grief re-emerges. Dealing with themes of death and loss, this book will appeal to all readers, not only children. Told from the point of view of both Jess and Adeline, the author is able to create authentic voices for her characters, and empathy for them.

Equally as beguiling as the plot is the book's title Oranges and Lemons, which originates from an ancient nursery rhyme with a sinister conclusion -

"Here comes a candle to light you to bed,
Here comes a chopper to chop off your head."

Will Jess survive all of the challenges that she faces?

Paula F. Andrews
Paula F. Andrews
The beautiful half-timbered Mulberry Hall in York dates from the fifteenth century and is home to the child-ghost, Adeline. The author was inspired by a real-life ghost story that she heard whilst working in the now defunct shop as a Saturday assistant. The legend tells that the shop assistants would often feel a strange tugging at their clothes, leading them to believe that a ghostly child was trying to gain their attention. The author has brought both present-day and Victorian York vividly to life and if you have ever visited York, you will enjoy seeing it re-imagined through the pages of the book.

Paula F. Andrews was influenced by another personal experience when writing the novel: having being a midwife for many years, she was able to draw on her medical knowledge to create the sinister character of the doctor who is obsessed with morphine.

It's not easy to pull off a ghost story. What all good stories of this genre need at their heart is a secret. Read Oranges and Lemons to solve the mystery of Adeline's death and discover whether Jess will ever come to terms with her own grief.

Oranges and Lemons is published by Troubador