Holding On

This is an excellent, very well written book. I thoroughly enjoyed this British story although it brought many deep issues to the surface. In Holding On, Mel Morton writes about the village of Heatherton, with a woman named Beth who is holding on to a secret. I wanted to know what happened next as I read Beth’s story and how she managed to cope with surviving childhood sexual abuse.

The story starts out innocently enough with the Heatherton committee planning an event. The good folks of the village plan a festival to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee. They want a celebrity to kick off the festivities and they choose a renowned war photographer named Don. Beth puts two and two together and she realizes that the photographer is her feared abuser. She was just a fragile girl of eight named Lizziebeth when her innocence was deviously stolen. Beth has a disapproving Mum and an understanding Dad. Beth’s husband Peter is kind and thoughtful. Will Beth be believed and will justice prevail?

The story of childhood abuse bubbles up through the work of the committee and more comforting everyday events. The British English and slang gives Mel Morton’s Holding On its distinctive flavor. I thought that this British story was very appealing and that deep subjects were approached with great humanity.

Reviewed by  Jean Hall for Readers’ Favorite


Based in the village of Heatherton, the entwined lives of Beth and Peter Scott and Charlotte Gardner are disrupted by changes beyond their control. When their pasts catch up with them, relationships unravel and they begin to face events they’ve spent a lifetime running from.

For over thirty years, Beth has boxed and buried away her childhood secret, believing that if she ignores it, it won’t have any power over her. When award-winning war photographer Don Meadon returns to the area to promote his autobiography, Beth has to confront the damaging effects of her abused past.

After his mum died in a car accident when he was a child, Peter and his dad, Edward, have been exceptionally close, working together at the family carpentry business. When Edward retires to Spain and meets Fiona, Peter struggles to cope with his dad leaving him.

Charlotte Gardner, head teacher of Heatherton Junior School, is overworked but content with life. After her deputy leaves, Robert Armstrong is brought in as a temporary replacement and she finds herself attracted to him. When Robert tries to pursue a relationship she’s reluctant.

Together, these characters and others close to them learn how to deal with the challenges each of them faces in life.