16 year-old Sally Smiles has green fingers and helps out at Cumberley Comprehensive School’s kitchen garden. The school’s resident gardener, the handsome thirty-something Bill Studdley, has been a big help to Sally grooming her in, among other things, all she needs to know if she is going to go on to study at Wisley horticultural college. She is now on the verge of producing a new cultivar – a red daffodil. When her prize bulbs get stolen one night, she sets out to find the culprits, little knowing how the trail will ultimately lead her into the dark corners of sexual depravity where she finds one of her school friends is the victim of sexual abuse by a school employee and another victim has had recourse to a back street abortionist.
“A a well-written tale of flowers, friendship, betrayal and familial abuse.”
Five Star Review on Amazon By PAW
“‘What it is that drives a father to seduce his own daughter?’ Emma asked between hiccupped sobs, still holding her mother in her arms. Elizabeth Millington had been asking herself that particular question both as a paediatrician and mother for a long time but still had no answer for her daughter.”
B J Wheater’s first novel for the teenage/adult fiction market handles the highly emotive subject of the sexual abuse of children with considered sensitivity to produce a well-written tale of flowers, friendship, betrayal and familial abuse.
Without denigrating the seriousness of such a weighty subject, the 230 page book tells the tale of 16 year-old Sally Smiles, whose green fingers find her helping out at Cumberley Comprehensive School’s kitchen garden, where she discovers a way of producing a new cultivar – a red daffodil. But when her prize bulbs get stolen one night and sets out to find the culprit, the ensuing trail leads her to school friends, one the victim of sexual abuse by a school employee, another the victim of a prominent Member of Parliament and the `Group’.
Whether it is the recent preponderance of child sexual abuse and grooming cases in the UK following revelations about Jimmy Savile’s degeneracy, or the apparent reluctance of State institutions to tackle the issue, Wheater has been rattled enough to write about a controversial and divisive subject in a very effective way.
Neither salacious nor graphic in content, this ‘cross-over’ book is ostensibly a self-help guide masquerading as juvenile crime fiction. It is written in a style not dissimilar to a Famous Five or Secret Seven story the author is likely to have read as a child. Yet whilst Wheater has managed to get to grips with current teen speak, the fictional teenagers in Red Daffodils do appear to have a maturity and a level of state education that harks back to a bygone era.
Red Daffodils raises some important questions about familial abuse and makes sure that children are aware of the avenues they can take to get the appropriate help and advice.
It’s a brave, well-written and very readable book that should, unfortunately, be on the bedside cabinet of children everywhere.
About the Author
After many years working as an English language teacher at various schools and colleges in the UK, B J Wheater decamped to rural France to live a quiet, frugal and uncomplicated life, devoting time to creativity by way of writing, painting, sculpting and landscaping.
Red Daffodils is B J Wheater’s first novel.