‘Do you have a name for her?’ she asked.
He shook his head. ‘You’ve decided it’s a girl?’
She looked at the skull and thought of it washing backwards and forwards in the dirty water of the Thames until coming to rest in sight of tip of the Isle of Dogs under the gaze of the grandiose buildings of Greenwich.
‘We’ll call her Flotsam,’ she said.
Award winning TV director Beatrice Palmenter is about to make a documentary about Joseph Troumeg, world famous restaurateur and food writer.
In her spare time she is a volunteer for a charity that helps clean the foreshore of the River Thames. One day a member of the group finds the remains of a skull, which turns out to be that of a thousand year old child. The process of discovering more about this human remnant fascinates and disturbs Beatrice.
As the facts begin to emerge about the skull, so she begins to unearth the truth about Joseph Troumeg, different stands of history conspiring to make Beatrice look harder at her own life. Beatrice Emily Palmenter, 36 years old and unmarried, is at odds with herself. So certain at work, so unsure in her private life, she is floundering. She is used to exploring the lives of others but, she begins to discover, less able to see herself.
Until she meets archaeologist Harry Wesley and the child they call Flotsam. It is Flotsam’s story that begins to illuminate Beatrice’s own and lead her by the hand into her past life. Along the way she journeys from London to Paris and beyond to Marseille, from the plight of collaborators at the close of the Second World, across the years to the days of the Anglo-Saxons where she meets three extraordinary women, grandmother, mother and daughter.
A Girl Called Flotsam is a mystery about the elusiveness of history and the messages, true and false, it leaves behind for us all.