Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms by Katherine Rundell
I loved Rundell's book, Rooftoppers. Cartwheeling has a much different setting. Rooftoppers began and ended with the scent of magic realism. Cartwheeling, on the other hand, hints at an all too concrete tragedy even while the heroine is enjoying her wonderful life.
The villainess in this book is smarmy and manipulative. (Do those two words mean the same thing?) So, I skipped a few pages and got into the meat of the story. Wilhelmina Silver has been a wild girl on the farm her father manages in Zimbabwe. She rides, runs and fights as well as the boys, if not better. Her life is one long adventure. And everyone loves her - her father, Captain Browne who owns the farm, all the workers and their families and especially her best friend, Simon.
Then disaster strikes in the form of a new, pretty wife for Captain Browne. In a trice, Will is orphaned - (these are the pages I skipped so I can only guess that Mrs. Browne did not do her best to nurse Will's father back to health) - and shipped off to Boarding School in England.
Much catty bullying and impotent glaring and despair follow and then Will runs off into a brand new wilderness, London.
One of the best things about this book is the balance in the characters. The bullies end up having good points - well, ok, reluctant remorse. The teachers are not all bad. And the boy who befriends Will has his limitations. People are people - spotty and real.
Yep. The ending is quite satisfying. Rundell's writing does not disappoint.