The Charity of Strangers is the debut novel by Alison Burke. A former nurse who had a long and varied career within the nursing profession, including a stint working internationally with the Royal Army Nursing Service. But mainly with the NHS. Her debut novel is one that embodies the theme is life a journey and has many twist and turns.
You can find almost anything in a charity shop, but can you find love?
You can certainly find friendship and there is both laughter and tears ahead when 19yr old Zaffron, lonely, anxious and without direction, meets Blaire Daintry, good-looking, charming, and gay.
Both volunteers in the charity shop, he has a hidden agenda, she has secrets, but they are friends from the start, despite Blaire’s constant sparring with Ida, the stern, good-hearted older volunteer who Zaffron admires. And perhaps Ida has secrets too.
Together with other victims of the city’s housing crisis, Blaire and Zaffron set up a safe and happy home. Secure at last, she tells him of the dreadful incident in her childhood that has marred her life, but not even his total acceptance gives her the confidence to start a relationship with an attractive and decent young army sergeant who falls in love with her.
Is it fear of the truth coming out that holds her back? Or is there some other reason, buried too deep in her heart for her to recognise?
The Charity of Strangers is a heartwarming read that takes you deep into the world of working in a charity shop, and we can vouch from our own personal experience of working in one, Alison gets it pretty spot on. It follows the lives of some of the shops volunteers, each with their own secrets and reasons for being at the shop.
Each character is unique and has a powerful powerful backstory that is skilfully played out to maximise the readers attention and make them feel a connection with every character. It’s a beautiful story that will leave you with tears in your eyes, but wholly grateful you read it.
You can get a copy of The Charity of Strangers, here.