By Elaine Hankin
Who hasn’t been to places like Arundel Castle, Petworth House or Brighton Pavilion and wondered what the walls would say if they could tell you about the inhabitants’ lives they have witnessed and the visitors who have graced – or darkened – their doors?
We tend to fixate on the grander homes, our curiosity sparked by the rich and landed gentry who we have heard of, the people who have wielded influence on the political landscape as well as the countryside, and who have arguably helped to shape our lives today.
But what about the ordinary houses, where ordinary folk live?
Their stories are just as full of twists, turns and unpredictability – and Elaine Hankin’s book literally brings one particular house to life, as if the walls themselves are telling the story.
Footprints on My Doorstep tracks the occupants of the house, in Worthing, from 1901 to the present day. Through their lives Hankin shines a light on the complexities of relationships, be they married couples, parent-child, siblings, or just house sharers.
In what is essentially a collection of short stories with the house at the centre, we follow the lives of Daisy and Jack, Walter and Holly, Cora and Thelma, Katherine and Peter – and others, each set against their own contemporary background.
Footprints is a page-turning microcosm of life through different eras, with love and loss, tragedy and happiness, adultery, abandonment – all set with the backdrop of Sussex, where Elaine Hankin moved in 1984 after a few years living abroad.
Hankin has written seven novels and a book of short stories.