A secret place ISBN: 9780340716618
Published by Hodder, 1998
After an acrimonious divorce, Maria and Charlie's mum refuses to let them have anything to do with their Spanish, flamenco-dancing father. One day he kidnaps them from their school playground in Edinburgh and takes them back to Spain where he has been given custody by Spanish courts. At first Maria is excited about the adventure, and because she has missed her father dreadfully for the two years since the divorce, she accepts what he has done. However, she is also concerned that her mum must be worried and begins to make attempts to get in touch. Their father takes them to stay in a tiny village in the mountains where his aged Aunt Teresa lives, and there, the whole village is in on Antonio's secret, and the children feel they are in prison. Charlie misses his mum , and though Maria understands that her mother's lies and evasions have made her father take these steps, she knows this solution is wrong. She likes Spain, but she also likes Edinburgh and her friends there. Maria at eleven shows more maturity than her parents. When mum finally catches up with the children and their father, an agreement is made that they will live with her during term time and with their father during holidays. As dad is rather feckless and never has much money, we don't learn how all this travel is to be possible, but the children are happy with this solution. Very good on Maria's feeling about being torn between her two parents and their very different lives. There is also an exotic girlfriend of Antonio's that she feels she will never like. Mum is shown to be very strict and conventional while dad is anything but. A gritty and realistic picture of what it must be like to be tug-of-love children.