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The Pearl in the Ice

The Pearl in the Ice

Published: 7 Nov 2019

Paperback / softback, 320 pages

Recommended for age 9+ and 11+

By Cathryn Constable

Published by Chicken House Ltd

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Twelve-year-old Marina is supposed to be going to boarding school to learn how to be a lady - but instead, she stows away on her father's ship. Soon she's embarked on a dangerous voyage where a great secret lies in wait ...

Reviewed by Rachel Elvidge

The Pearl in the Ice is a cracker of a novel!

Motherless Marina has ambitions to be a ‘New Woman’ and chafes against the restrictions of her time and her strict Naval father. His plans to send her to a Ladies’ College prove to be the last straw. Instead, she follows him to Portsmouth, only to discover he isn’t going to Cadiz, as he told her, but somewhere far more interesting, and cold. On the way, she meets the glamorous Miss Smith, immaculately groomed, career-minded and, with her calf-length skirts, very definitely ‘new’. Marina thinks she’s found her role model, but is there more to Miss Smith than meets the eye? And just what has happened to Marina’s strange mother?

Throw in wartime plots, an enterprising ship’s boy, spies, huskies, mermaids and a big pinch of magic, and you have a gripping thriller that will keep readers enthralled as they try, like Marina, to find out exactly what is going on.

I highly recommend this novel. There is enough depth to it to make a great class read. There is lots to debate and discuss, and the themes will provide lots of food for thought. The wartime setting is deliberately vague but has echoes of the Battle of Jutland. The theme of emancipation is constant, not just in the depictions of early feminism, but also the limitations placed on Jones by his class and income. The mix of magic and realism is very well done.

As an independent read, I imagine The Pearl in the Ice would be devoured with great enthusiasm. It is a page-turner! Fans of Emma Carroll will love it.

Rachel has 20 years experience in primary school teaching, most recently running reading interventions in an Ofsted Outstanding school in Essex. A firm believer that there is always something new to learn, she recently completed an MA in Early Childhood Education. In the same spirit, she also attends latin and ballroom lessons, sadly with a less than impressive outcome! Rachel works for Just Imagine as an Education Consultant, currently overseeing The Reading Journey.