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The Vanishing of Margaret Small: An uplifting and page-turning mystery

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While reading, I wondered if Margaret was really as 'slow' as they made her out to be. If her grandmother had shown her any real love and guidance perhaps she would have learned to read and write. Though, the sad truth was that the grandmother's getting rid of Margaret as an unwelcome reminder of her daughter's transgressions seemed inevitable in a way. The sadistic treatment of the patients at the long term care institution was distressing to read. Margaret lived there from the age of seven until she was forty-one years old! All the while being told she was incapable of learning - and she had no schooling. Marga joined Birmingham in 2007 as Lecturer in Europe and the Wider World and achieved a much-deserved promotion to Senior Lecturer in 2021. In addition to her world-leading monograph Framing the World: Classical Influences on Sixteenth-Century Geographical Thought (The Boydell Press, 2020), Marga’s many publications included a prize-winning article in Renaissance Studies and another in Sixteenth-Century Studies – two of the most prestigious peer-reviewed journals in her field. This was a lovely book, I thoroughly enjoyed it, although it was quite sad, but ultimately uplifting. You may need tissues, especially towards the end. I know I did.

I was surprised to find out "The Vanishing of Margaret Small" is this author's debut novel. The author's note at the end, gives brief detail of what brought this amazing story to life. I do hope this book finds its way in front of a large audience of readers and listeners for the well-written and meaningful story it is. I highly recommend it to all!I wont tell you why and how long Margaret ended up in the children’s institution but the way this aspect is incorporated into the plot is marvellous. It isn’t a case of writing a character with a disability just to fit in with the current trend in fiction but forgetting to use it after some casual mentions. On the contrary, the author thoughtfully makes use of this aspect of Margaret’s personality in almost every chapter. When reading, the locations mentioned were very vivid to me - largely in part to the fact that just last week I binge-watched the second season of "Whitstable Pearl" on Netflix. There is a twist towards the end of the book, it did not come as a surprise to me. I was pretty sure I had figured it out along the way. But that did not detract from the story at all. Throughout, I only wanted the best for Margaret. But, then, I found out that I had not figured it out. What a lovely surprise! The real twist was way better than what I had in mind.

A tender, thought-provoking and totally gripping novel from a wonderful storyteller…deserves to be a huge hit!’– Matt Cain, author of The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle Thatcher led the Conservatives to a decisive electoral victory in 1979 following a series of major strikes during the previous winter (the so-called “Winter of Discontent”) under the Labour Party government of James Callaghan. As a prime minister representing the newly energetic right wing of the Conservative Party (the “Dries,” as they later called themselves, as opposed to the old-style moderate Tories, or “Wets”), Thatcher advocated greater independence of the individual from the state; an end to allegedly excessive government interference in the economy, including privatization of state-owned enterprises and the sale of public housing to tenants; reductions in expenditures on social services such as health care, education, and housing; limitations on the printing of money in accord with the economic doctrine of monetarism; and legal restrictions on trade unions. The term Thatcherism came to refer not just to these policies but also to certain aspects of her ethical outlook and personal style, including moral absolutism, fierce nationalism, a zealous regard for the interests of the individual, and a combative, uncompromising approach to achieving political goals. I was seven years old when they vanished me. The Rat Catcher done it. He stole me from Grandma. In the beginning, you see, I lived with Grandma, for Mother had died soon after I was born. Laughlin, Kathleen A.; Castledine, Jacqueline (2011). Breaking the Wave: Women, Their Organizations, and Feminism, 1945-1985. Oxon: Routledge. p.235. ISBN 978-0-415-87397-0.Yet she also made it her duty to ensure that we were also able to bond together outside of work. Many of the cohort had come from different institutions and Margaret recognised how difficult it may be for a lot of students given that in-person experiences remained limited. So, Margaret tookit upon herself to organise games evening so that we could get to know each other better. Margaret tells us her story. She uses the present (2015) and the past (1947-1970) alternately. The past is very interesting, learning how she grew up. Margaret leads a hard life. But throughout it all, there are many moments of joy for her and she accepts her lot in life. She learns to live her life around her disabilities, always forging her way forward. She is so loveable for the fact that she is naive and vulnerable. But, the opportunity to make her own choices is not available to her, which affects her for the rest of her life. To lose a good friend and wonderful colleague so suddenly is overwhelming, and it feels unbearably cruel that we are here again.Like all of us, I have been thinking about Marga a lot over the past few weeks.I have remembered our conversations about bicycles and cycling holidays. I have remembered how much I enjoyed reading or listening to her talk about her work - her learnedness, her scholarship, her range, her passion.Above all, I have thought about the sheer vitality, energy, kindness, and importance of her presence within the department - about what we gained from having her as a colleague, and what we have now lost. a b Pohl, Nicole (2001). "Review of Circles otf Power: Shifting Dynamics in a Lesbian-centered Community". Utopian Studies. 12 (2): 301–303. ISSN 1045-991X. All in all, this is a book that is heartrending and heartwarming at the same time. If you want to read the touching story of a loveable old lady, definitely give this a go.

The chapters are short, adding to the pace of the novel. (I was a bit apprehensive to see eighty-seven chapters at first! Needn’t have worried.) a b c "N.C. Schools Employ Radical Lesbian Who Called Marriage 'Slavery' for Women". The Other McCain. 2015-05-25 . Retrieved 2022-11-10.Colleagues from the time particularly remember Marga’s keen intellect, her warmth, her enthusiasm and, as one former colleague expressed it ‘her ability to talk plainly about very complicated things’. She was at the same time incredibly erudite and great fun! Those of us who remember her were deeply saddened to hear of her loss and extend our sympathy and condolences to all her family, friends and colleagues at University of Birmingham. On behalf of the National Maritime Museum: Sally Archer, Research & Heritage Partnerships Manager, and former Director of Research Dr Margarette Lincoln In recent years, especially since the pandemic, our paths crossed less frequently. When we did meet, she was invariably the most rewarding of companions: always interesting and interested, perceptive, generous and kind. I regret not seeing her more often, and deeply regret all those future conversations we’ll never have. I cannot imagine what her family must be going through, and I send them all my most heartfelt sympathies. During Marga’s appointment process, she impressed everybody during her presentation with her research topic, the history of exploration, but most of all with her language ability. Latin, ancient Greek, Spanish, Italian, French and bits of German amongst them. Whenever we met, she usually greeted me with a friendly ‘Wie gehts?’. These two words and the tone in which she asked expressed Marga’s whole personality: genuine, warm and interested. This is how I experienced her as a colleague, without any sense of attitude or entitlement, totally reliable and always willing to help and do her part in the School’s routine work and events. MY THOUGHTS: What an amazing read (listen) this was! I love being blindsided by the unexpected, and Neil Alexander manages to do this with his debut novel! Definitely a writer to watch.

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