When young Mouse moves into a remote farmhouse with her grief-stricken mother, she discovers a cache of letters and memorabilia left by William, the elderly owner of the property. Struggling to manage her own feelings over the death of her brother, Mouse takes on the running of the home, cooking and gardening, as well as taking an interest in the story of William and his family.
William has written a sequence of letters to his daughter that have never been posted, describing how he met her mother at the end of the war - events that have turned him into a sad and bitter man. As a promising officer in the army, William was ordered to take care of housing the Cossacks, a large group of displaced Russians who no longer belong in the Soviet Republic, and are living in an encampment in Austria.
The narrative switches from Mouse, unable to speak, yet determined to look after her mother, and the letters of William, a story of love and tragedy in the aftermath of the war. Both characters are plagued by guilt, and are cut off from important members of their family.
The book has a surprising ending, but really it is a very unique story altogether. Mouse is a wonderful character – a gutsy kid who has to cope with far more than a child should have to. William’s letters are poignantly honest. This is a very intense story, moving and beautifully written, and carries a lot of thought beyond its slim covers.
Posted by JAM
Catalogue Link: Mouse and the Cossacks