British Book Database

The Whalebone Theatre

This is the tale of an old English manor by the sea, adorned with crumbling chimneys, ivy, and a library of dusty old hardbacks. Growing up in this house, three children embark on imaginative adventures while the grown-ups host endless parties. Sneaking reads of forbidden books and eavesdropping through oak-panelled doors, they learn valuable lessons.

Among these adventures is the story of a beached whale, claimed by a determined twelve-year-old girl with big dreams – nevermind that by law, the whale belongs to the King. As an unwanted orphan, she defies her traditional upbringing and seeks a different path.

She and the rest of the household—her sister, Flossie; her brother, Digby, long-awaited heir to Chilcombe manor; Maudie Kitcat, kitchen maid; Taras, visiting artist—construct a theatre from the whale’s rib cage. Within the Whalebone Theatre, Cristabel can escape her normal life and allow her imagination to take over.

As the children reach adulthood, World War II begins, thrusting them into unanticipated roles. Raised on stories, they must now forge their own tales.

Christabel and Digby become British secret agents on separate missions in Nazi-occupied France—a new and more dangerous kind of playacting than the one they honed as children.


Praise for The Whalebone Theatre…

Sunday Times Bestseller | New York Time Bestseller

‘Destined to become a classic . . . Elegantly written and totally immersive, Quinn’s debut is a wonder.’ – The Daily Mail

“Absolute aces…Quinn’s imagination and adventuresome spirit are a pleasure to behold.” —The New York Times


Quotes from The Whalebone Theatre

She would like very much to be a part of that. No. She would like very much to be in charge of that.

This imaginative pondering feels as if she is, if not exactly returning to herself, then arranging to meet herself, a little further on.

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