I was keen to read this book after taking part in a Facebook conversation with the author about the cover design – I loved this image and it intrigued me as to what lay within.
I wasn’t disappointed, discovering a heartrending yet fascinating story of two good-hearted but underprivileged young Victorians whose romantic intentions are thwarted by a manipulative, harsh society dominated by the Catholic church.
In the Picaresque Tradition
I don’t want to say too much for fear of spoiling the plot, so let’s just say there are picaresque journeys on both sides of the Atlantic, in very different settings that are described with clear and compelling yet not excessive detail.
A Well-Designed Patchwork
In fact, balance is a key characteristic of this book, not only in terms of the blend of fact and fiction, but also in the mix of sympathy, empathy and realism, so that the poignant and often tragic story never strays into the mawkish or sentimental.
More Books to Look Forward To
In all, it’s a very rewarding and absorbing read, and I’m now looking forward to reading the author’s other novels, Kurinji Flowers (India) and A Greater World (Australia) both of which share themes of emigration and aspiration, though on different continents. It’ll be interesting to see how they compare. (Interestingly, Clare Flynn also writes non-fiction books about needlework – presumably that’s what gave her the idea for the patchwork motif in this book.)
All three books are available as ebooks and paperbacks, and are garnering plenty of good reviews.