The Visitors follows the story of Adeliza ‘Liza’ Golding, who as a young child loses her hearing to fever, followed by her sight. Though she can communicate her wants and needs with the simplest of gestures, and can navigate herself within her family’s home with her remaining senses, Liza is unable to fully express herself, leaving her frustrated and isolated. Her only constant companions are the Visitors, mysterious entities she can sense with her mind.
Then one day, after escaping from her nanny and running out into her father’s hop fields, Liza encounters a young hop picker named Lottie, who changes her life forever when she takes Liza by the hand and demonstrates a way to communicate. From that day forth, Lottie becomes her teacher and dearest friend, filling Liza’s once empty world with newfound language and expression. The presence of the Visitors also takes on a new dimension, as they are now able to speak to Liza. It doesn’t take her long to realize what the Visitors really are, and that she is the only one capable of sensing and communicating with them.
Told in the first person, The Visitors is a memorable and moving tale. Set during the waning years of the Victorian era, Liza’s journey out of a lonely, sheltered existence takes her from her father’s hop farm in Kent to Lottie’s childhood home in Whitstable, and later, to the scorched landscape of South Africa during the Boer Wars. Liza is a compelling narrator, whose growth from a child to a capable, intelligent young woman is absorbing as it is convincing. After undergoing cataract surgery that restores her sight, Liza is able to see the Visitors as they really are; earth-bound ghosts who have not been able to pass on. In much the same way Lottie was able to reach out to her when she was a child, Liza attempts to do the same for the Visitors. Her uncanny ability to communicate with the dead becomes a vital tool much later in the story, when Liza and Lottie find themselves journeying to South Africa on a mission to prove the innocence of a loved one.
More than just a story with ghosts, The Visitors is an inspiring historical drama of a young girl’s desperate desire to communicate and connect with others. It demonstrates the power of language, and how it can break down walls, bring people closer to their loved ones, and in the end, set people free.