Twins Jeannie and Julius Seeder live precarious but contented lives with their mother Dot in the cottage where they were born. At 51, neither has much education. Jeannie was kept out of school so frequently with rheumatic fever that she never learned to properly read and write. Julius only attended school until 15. Jeannie and her mother keep a market garden while Julius earns what he can through various odd jobs. Their mother has taught them to be independent and not borrow money.
When Dot dies unexpectedly, however, the twins are thrown by one thing after another. They had always understood that their cottage was theirs for life, rent-free, because their landlord, Mr. Rawlings, was partially at fault for their father’s horrendous death. However, almost immediately after Dot’s death, Mrs. Rawlings arrives to tell them they owe £2000 for back rent. The man they sell vegetables to informs Jeannie that Dot owed him money, and the husband of her mother’s best friend says she owed him £800. But they can find no money in the house. Then, right before the wake, a thuggish young man tells them they are being evicted in a week. They have no money for a funeral.
Although Jeannie finds a job doing a woman’s garden, she is paid by check and has no idea how to cash it. The electricity has been disconnected. But Jeannie and Julius are too proud to ask for help or let anyone know what’s going on.
This story about people living on the margins of society had me utterly rapt. I could not do anything but wonder how it would all end. Fuller has done it again with another powerful, absorbing novel.