The Whalebone Theatre
A transporting, irresistible debut novel that takes its heroine, Cristabel Seagrave, from a theatre in the gargantuan cavity of a beached whale into undercover operations during World War II - a story of love, family, bravery, lost innocence, and self-transformation.
One blustery night in 1928, a whale washes up on the shores of the English Channel. By law, it belongs to the King, but 12 year old orphan Cristabel Seagrave has other plans. She and the rest of the household - her sister, Flossie; her brother, Digby, long-awaited heir to Chilcombe manor; Maudie Kitcat, kitchen maid; Taras, visiting artist - build a theatre from the beast's skeletal rib cage. Within the Whalebone Theatre, Cristabel can escape her feckless stepparents and brisk governesses, and her imagination comes to life.
As Cristabel grows into a headstrong young woman, World War II rears its head. She and Digby become British secret agents on separate missions in Nazi-occupied France - a more dangerous kind of playacting, it turns out, and one that threatens to tear the family apart.