The Misunderstandings of Charity Brown

Elizabeth Laird

Ages 9 to 11
01 June 2023
352 pages


Inspired by award-winning author Elizabeth Laird's own childhood growing up in post-war London, The Misunderstandings of Charity Brown is a classic coming-of-age story, perfect for fans of The Skylarks' War and I Capture the Castle.

Charity Brown’s life is about to change – her family have been left a huge, rambling house by a mysterious benefactor, and her parents want to move in and throw open its doors to the needy.

Only recently back from hospital after months of isolation with polio, Charity is over-protected and lonely as the only child still at home. Her family are very religious – her sisters are called Faith and Hope, and her brother Ted is studying to be a preacher – so she's both excited and nervous at the thought of sharing her family and new home with strangers.

It’s a recipe for confusion, joy and endless misunderstandings, including with the new neighbours, an Austrian family with a daughter just Charity’s age . . .

Elizabeth's writing is beautifully accessible, her characters are vivid and authentic. I loved Charity's voice; as I reader, I felt very close to her, experiencing the big changes in her life, and in herself, as she grows and learns more about the world outside her religious family. It's beautifully done.
The Misunderstandings of Charity Brown surprised and fascinated and delighted me, evoking so completely such a recently vanished world. I loved so many things about it: the family setting, the welcoming multicultural house and the growing up of Charity from ill child to funny, confident young person.
This family story is unusual and a delight to read – funny, caring, warm, and unerringly in touch with the anguish of adolescence.