Plot revealed below!
Carrie Willow and her young brother, Nick, are delivered to Paddington Station by their mother and evacuated from war-torn London. Like millions of other English children at the outset of World War II, they are sent to safety in the countryside as part of "Operation Pied Piper." They end up in a rural Welsh village, with a contingent of other evacuees. Local families make their selection of who to host from among the young passengers.
The kind-hearted Lou and her stern grocer brother, Mr. Evans, take in the Willow siblings. Carrie and Nick's new lifestyle is rather different from what they are used to. In Mr. Evans's house, all things plain are revered and even walking on the stairway carpet more than twice a day is considered a luxury.
However, when the children are sent to Druid's Bottom to fetch the Christmas goose from Mr. Evans's estranged sister, Mrs. Gotobed, they discover a new and welcoming world of warmth and plenty.
The house is managed by Hepzibah Green, a kindly, self-professed witch, assisted by the tongue-tied Mister Johnny, a simple-minded cousin of Mrs. Gotobed's. Also living on the premises is Albert Sandwich, a fellow evacuee who Carrie befriended earlier.
Druid's Bottom provides a magical refuge to which the children return as often as possible. Hepzibah casts spells with stories, including the matter of the resident ancient skull and its curse, which she relates as follows:
Should this skull be broke or took,
These hollow eyes will on you look.
For here the skull must always lie,
Or house and soul will certain die!
The dying Mrs. Gotobed, an ethereal, fading bohemian, gives Carrie a mysterious last message to deliver to Mr. Evans after her death. Carrie doesn't quite grasp the meaning and, with the best of intentions, relays the message with dire consequences.
Did Carrie bring down a curse on those she loved by doing the worst thing she ever did in her life?
It is only when Carrie returns to Druid's Bottom as an adult that she learns the fate of her friends. And it is only then that she is able to fully understand her experiences there as a young evacuee.
Author Nina Bawden | Evacuation from London | Who's Who
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