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Character Profile: Hettie Rathbone

Hettie Rathbone is Lucas's mum, and a dear, sweet woman who loves everyone. Whether you need a sympathetic ear, a little company, a hug, or have just got some village gossip you can't wait to share, you'll find whatever loving mothering you need when you shop up at her front door.

If mobile phones and GIFs existed in 1928, this is what Lucas, Clara, Tommy, and basically everyone else would be texing Hettie on the daily

However, underneath her cheerful demeanour, she's never got over the loss of her husband, Jim, and realies a little too heavily on her son - emotionally speaking, anyway, She's perfectly capable of running the house on her own, and doing all manner of other things, come to think of it.

It's rare, if not unheard of, for Hettie to ask for help, thinking she should be able to manage everything on her own, from paying the bills, to keeping house, to raising a respectable young man who knows how to darn his own socks (even if she'd do a much better job)

That isn't to say she won't accept help where it's needed, though.

After Jim went missing in the trenches of WW1, Hettie's best friend, Flora Jenkins (Clara's mum), offered help both practical and emotionally.

The Jenkinses shared food and warmth with the Rathbones, and when it was Flora's husband's turn to not make it home from the front lines, the two women joined forces to raise their families together. Hettie and Lucas often moved into Mrs Jenkins's house over winter so there was only one home to heat and one range cooker to fuel. It is likely this allowed the two families to survive, and also facilitated Lucas and Clara's budding romance.

Though the children tried to keep their relationship secret, they didn't fool either Hettie or Flora for a second, and some gentle maternal teasing ensued - not enough to hamper things, though, as really, they were delighted at the match.

Speaking of love, Hettie has stayed true to Jim Rathbone even though there was no need, really.

Yes, she's always hoped he'd come back to her one day, but she also knows that, with each passing year, this is less and less likely. Still, she's kindly rebuffed well-intended advances from several men in the village over the years, including the greengrocer, the doctor, and the vicar, thanking them for their interest but saying that, whilst there's still a chance her husband could return, she can't remarry.

Besides, when so many other women's husbands and sweethearts didn't return either, it hardly seemed right that she should be lucky enough to have not one but two husbands in her lifetime.

So she's lived without the romantic love she craves, instead filing her heart with the love of her son and her friends - and keeping daydreams of a second husband as just that.

Hettie seems quite happy on the surface, but her heart still aches for Jim, and those who know her best know that the happy-go-lucky attitude she presents to the world is only skin deep. They do what they can to help, but getting over the loss of Jim is something she'll have to figure out on her own...

But I have high hopes that she'll work it out soon enough.

Tomorrow will be the last of the character profiles I'll be sharing in this mini series of posts, and we're going to meet Flora Jenkins, who has a far larger role in The Ghost Who Wasn't Dead than she's had in any of the previous books - and she's really rather wonderful, so I can't wait for you to meet her properly :)

Catch you then!

Love, Saff xx


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