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All You Need Is Love - Margaret Thornton

This is the second Margaret Thornton novel I've read. Nor will it be the last. She's one of those writers with a sure skill in creating characters who become real to the reader. Indeed, so much so that they seem to leap out of the pages and make the story of which they're a part even more compelling.


It is the beginning of 1962. Abbie Horsfall (who appeared in Thornton's other novel, 'Looking at the Moon' in which Abbie left home to serve in the Land Army in the countryside during World War II) is a widow in early middle age who returns to live in Blackpool with her 2 teen-age children, Simon (13) and Sandie, who, at 15, is becoming a bit of a handful. Blackpool, where Abbie had lived before marrying an RAF airman she had met at a local dance during the war, holds special memories for her. It is also where her closest friend Doreen lives; Abbie's father and stepmother also live there. At the same time, Abbie is determined to find a career for herself in which she can feel useful. She applies for a position in the local teachers college and is accepted. She makes some new friends and attracts the attention of one of her teachers, Art Gillespie. As the story develops, we learn some things about Art and his knack for ingratiating himself with some of his female students that tend not to end well. (Abbie also goes on to have a side job as a Tupperware seller, demonstrating the virtues of Tupperware in the household for some of her new friends and acquaintances in Blackpool through the staging of "Tupperware parties.")


All the while, Sandie, who has never fully accepted the death of her father, finds it difficult to adjust to this new life in Blackpool. She is generally a dutiful, respectful daughter and good student, displaying promise with her skills in playing the piano. But she does give Abbie a bit of a rough time, trying to assert that she knows what she's doing and doesn't need Abbie being overly protective of her. Then Sandie makes the acquaintance of Greg Matthews at a piano competition in which they competed against one another. Greg, a year older than Sandie, is a prodigy with plans to go on to music college. Sandie and her mother also become acquainted at the competition with Duncan Hendy, Greg's music teacher who is deeply attached to Greg, having been friends with his parents for years. At the same time, Sandie's music teacher indicates to both her and Abbie after the competition that she will be resigning her post to care for a sickly family member up north. This leaves a gap in Sandie's training which is eventually filled when Abbie is able to make arrangements with Mr. Hendy to take on Sandie as a pupil. Sandie has no problem with that, given that Greg has his practice session an hour before hers. Over the next 2 years, she develops a liking for Greg that ripens into first love for both.


All the while, long simmering tensions among some of the principal characters come to the boil. There are also some tragedies that result, which I won't mention here. What I will say is "ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE" is a novel that shows how people's lives can be turned upside-down in the twinkling of an eye and that love can endure all things. Simply put, it's a wonderful story that comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.