Archive for the ‘Historical Saga’ Category

 

A Captivating West Country Family Saga

The Flower Seller is a fascinating story of a young woman’s descent from luxury to rural poverty after her beloved papa’s death. The openness and honesty of Isabella draws the reader in as they share her struggles to adjust to an alien lifestyle and family who at first she seems to have no common connection. Then the pace quickens and the pages turn as we want to know if she succeeds in turning her misfortunes around.

The story features another of Linda Finlay’s signature themes of old Devon crafts and wares – this time violet growing around Dawlish. As usual, the author’s talent for research is in evidence as her words, characters and dialect, bringing the world of Devonshire violet growers in the late nineteenth century to life. Light hearted moments between Isabelle and her cousin Dotty or the attractive business rival Felix are in sharp contrast with scenes of darkness and despair, snobbery and corruption.

This is a satisfying novel about a young woman’s rise to fulfillment and is just right for this year of celebration of one hundred years of woman’s suffrage.

Highly recommended.

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Another satisfying read by my author friend Linda Finlay with a local setting in Torquay.
Linda Finlay’s extensive research of life in the periods of history she writes about ensure a compelling novel that takes you back in time, this time to 1901 the time of Ragged Schools and the rise of the suffragette movement. ‘Orphans and Angels’ is the author’s second book about the Red Cliffs Ragged School. In it we meet the owner Sarah Sullivan who is still struggling to keep the children safe and the school open, helped in her endeavours by dishy school master Harry Higgins. The inimitable Mrs Daws is still in the kitchen making sure that whatever else befalls them the children have a good meal inside them, and the school has a new teacher in the form of the lyrical Sheena O’Reilly whose delightful presence and skills at story telling sets the scene for conflict and catastrophe.

As in all of Linda Finlay’s writing the characters come to life on the page. I especially enjoyed reading how the children are developing, from new arrival the grieving and surly Soloman to independent Edith, as well as sharing in Sarah’s struggles to stick to her feminist beliefs and retain her friends and overcome her lack of money.

‘Orphans and Angels’ is a wonderfully satisfying read that will keep you engaged until the last page.

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Monday’s Child is the first of Linda Finlay’s new Ragged School series. This time the story takes place in a turn of the century Torquay already attracting its share of wealthy tourists.

 

All the ingredients of Linda Finlay’s deft storytelling are there: an atmospheric sense of history, a setting that jumps off the page and fully formed characters that develop during the story to keep you turning the page to find out how they fare through all that life throws their way. The Red Cliffs Ragged School comes to life on the page as new owner Sarah and school master Harry strive to keep it open and the children in their care safe.

With plenty of references to social change, especially with regard to womens’ role in society, the girls in the Ragged School are treated as well as the boys and given prospects, whilst adult characters support the sufferage movement. I loved the gentle sense of humour pervading the narrative either through the minor characters like Mrs Snooper and Miss Middle or the amusing dialogue between the Ragged School children or Sarah and Harry.

Monday’s Child is great read for the winter days leading up to Christmas. And I am delighted this novel is the first in a series because I can’t wait to find out what will happen to Sarah, Harry and the lovely Mrs Dawes and the children of Red Cliffs Ragged School next.