In the early 20th century the Victorian liner, Queen Mary, sinks leaving a 1 year old girl with “hair the colour of lightning” floating in a cello case in the middle of the Channel. Her rescuer, the eccentric scholar Charles Maxim, names her Sophie, takes her home to London and brings her up to be as eccentric as he is. “Never ignore a possible” is Sophie’s motto. Not only does Sophie insist that her mother is still alive, she claims to know that she was a cello player in the ship’s orchestra. When Sophie is to be taken from Charles’s care and moved to an orphanage, the pair escape to Paris, to trace the cello maker whose address they have discovered inside Sophie’s cello case. So begins Sophie’s quest in search of her mother and the unexpected help she receives from the rooftoppers.
I chuckled constantly at Katherine Rundell’s witticisms. On wearing a skirt Sophie looks as if she’s “mugged a librarian” and lawyers have all “the decency and courage of lavatory paper”. But the stand out message to us all is “…everyone starts out with a little strange in them. It’s just, whether or not you decide to keep it.”
Suitable for readers 8 years +