Harper Collins £6.99
In a graveyard at the start of the 1900s, 10-year-olds Livy and Maude meet at their family graves. The Colemans and the Waterhouses ("no relation to the painter") have never encountered one another before, although their ancestors have lain next to each other for generations. One grave has a large marble angel erected above it, the other an urn. A bond is formed that day between Livy and Maude, and Simon the young gravedigger.
Two years later the families are living next door to each other and the friendship between Maude and Livy blossoms; before long they are inseparable and the local graveyard becomes their playground. Together they go through the trials of Edwardian England, Maude's mother becomes immersed in the women's suffragette movement becoming more and more distant as Livy's mother becomes more and more suffocating. As the story progresses each girl is faced with their own personal loss, and the differences between Livy - whose main worry in life is which dress to wear - and Maude who is determined to go to University, becomes apparent.
Chevalier expertly switches between different narrative voices, allowing the reader to see the story from up to 8 different angles. Each character has their own chapter: Maude and Livy, Simon the gravedigger boy, the Colemans and Waterhouses, and their servants - even if some of them only get a sentence. Chevalier has made careful choices about who speaks when and for how long, and more importantly who remains silent - the characters with the least to say, sometimes say the most. Ivy May, Livy's younger sister for example, only has two sentences of her own, each of which will bring a lump to your throat.
An absorbing read.