|Hodder & Stoughton|
18 June 2015
The mean and moody streets of eighteenth century London are no place for abandoned children and yet, two young siblings, names as yet unknown, eke out a meagre existence by petty pilfering, taking food where they find it, and surviving by their considerable wits. But the fickle hand of fortune sees the older boy forcibly pressed into a life at sea, leaving his small sister at the mercy of her own fate. Rescued by a providential stranger, the girl is removed from the anonymity of the streets and is taken to a foundling place and given the name of Dawnay Price, a name which will eventually carry her far away from her humble beginnings and into a world of enlightenment.
Dawnay Price is a commendable narrator, who leads us quite forcibly by the hand and in her unique voice allows us a glimpse into the world of an eighteenth century enlightened female. Written with the author’s fine eye for detail, the story charts the events of Dawnay’s fascinating life and allows a glimpse into the workings of a fiercely intelligent woman who used her considerable wits to survive and rise above her early challenging start.
As with Rebecca Mascull’s previous novel, The Visitors, there is a realistic historical feel to the novel. The characters, their dialogue and their mannerisms blend together to form a distinct picture of eighteenth century life. The intelligence of the research offers the reader a story with real depth and clarity, and a feisty heroine who stays with you long after the book is finished.
There is huge expectation when reading an author’s second novel, especially when the first left such a lasting impression, so I must admit that I felt some trepidation when I first picked up my e-copy of Song of the Sea Maid. I knew the writing would be good, after all that’s what I’ve come to expect from this talented author, but I also wanted to be blown away by a story which captured my imagination, that gave me people I cared about and a story I didn’t want to end. I am delighted to say that from the opening chapter I was totally captivated and felt completely at ease in the company of a fine array of characters and by the storytelling skill of an author who clearly knows how to hold a reader in the palm of her hand.
My thanks to Emma at Hodder & Stoughton for my e-copy of this book to read in advance of its publication.