The Whalebone Theatre : The instant Sunday Times bestseller - Joanna Quinn

The Whalebone Theatre

The instant Sunday Times bestseller

By: Joanna Quinn

Paperback | 15 June 2022 | Edition Number 1

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A brilliant, beguiling story of inheritance, imagination, courage and loss, and of an irrepressible girl from a gloriously dysfunctional home who fights to carve out her own story.

Cristabel Seagrave has always wanted her life to be a story, but there are no girls in the books in her dusty family library. For an unwanted orphan who grows into an unmarriageable young woman, there is no place at all for her in a traditional English manor. But from the day that a whale washes up on the beach at the Chilcombe estate in Dorset, and twelve-year-old Cristabel plants her flag and claims it as her own, she is determined to do things differently.

With her step-parents blithely distracted by their endless party guests, Cristabel and her siblings, Flossie and Digby, scratch together an education from the plays they read in their freezing attic, drunken conversations eavesdropped through oak-panelled doors, and the esoteric lessons of Maudie their maid.

But as the children grow to adulthood and war approaches, jolting their lives on to very different tracks, it becomes clear that the roles they are expected to play are no longer those they want. As they find themselves drawn into the conflict, they must each find a way to write their own story...

About the Author

David McKee is the creator of best-selling picture books, including the Elmer titles which have sold 2 million copies worldwide. His classic picture book, Not Now Bernard has reached sales of 1 million.
Industry Reviews
'The circus playfulness of the language, the old story of the great house dazzlingly refreshed, the kind heart and the witty eye, the deep understanding of a girl's need to be the hero of her own life - this is a book that will be loved unreasonably and life-long, I believe, like I Capture The Castle.'
Francis Spufford, Author of 'light Perpetual'

'Utterly captivating. An epic romp with characters you cannot help but fall in love with and a plot that takes you in all sorts of unexpected directions. Written with great heart, humour and humanity, it's the kind of book you want to escape normal life to read at every available opportunity.'
Elizabeth Day, Author of Magpie

'The Whalebone Theatre has all the makings of a classic. And Cristabel Seagrave is the most gratifying hero. The war scenes often left me breathless: they are as good as you will ever read. A wonderful debut. Actually, a tour de force'
Sarah Winman, Author of Still Life

Quinn's story passes like a fabulous pageant, richly coloured and packed with incident, taking us from the lonely and unorthodox Dorset childhood of the extraordinary Christabel to the poignant aftermath of her heroic Second World War. Quinn has a sublime touch: Cristabel and her troupe are unforgettable, as riotous in comedy as they are heart-breaking in tragedy'
Frances Liardet, Author of We Must Be Brave

Magnificent. As capacious, surprising and magical as the whale that lends its bones to Cristabel's theatre: a tale of intertwined lives and braided fates as deftly managed and heartbreaking as a Dickens' novel.
Rebecca Stott, Costa-Winning Author of The Days of Rain

'Breathes fresh, bracing air into the lungs of the multi-generational saga - and the very form of the novel itself. Few people writing today can match Quinn for the energy and precision of her prose...'
Susan Elderkin, Author of The Story Cure: An A-Z of Books to Keep Kids Happy, Healthy and Wise

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