Outcast Child by Kitty Neale
In this powerful evocation of working-class South London in the 1950s, drama and heartbreak wreak havoc in the life of young Daisy Bacon, guardian of her Cousin Lizzie who, a grown woman in body and appearance, has the innocent and trusting nature of a child.
When her mother Judith is run over and killed outside their house, Daisy retreats into a world of silence. Blaming herself for the accident, the girl is unable to utter a word. The happy family home becomes a prison, with her stepmother Vera as the cruel jailer. It is cousin Lizzie, who will always remain a child, who brings sunshine back to Daisy's life. However, only when Henry Bacon discovers his new wife's shocking secret does Daisy herself find true happiness, and in a way that she could never have anticipated.
This is Kitty Neale's second novel. She is a superb storyteller, using her personal experience to explore themes of love and loss, showing life at its best, brightest and very darkest moments.