A young girl discovers a new side of her family after she’s taken in by her aunt in Kennedy’s (Winthrope: Tragedy to Triumph, 2017, etc.) historical novel.
In December 1861, England is in mourning after the death of Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert. For Anne Holt of Holybourne, his death marks the second tragedy to occur on her birthday. Eleven years before, her father, James, died in an accident shortly after her birth. Anne grew up impoverished, as her mother, Catherine, struggled to support them as a laundress and with money sent to them by her father’s sister, Alice. Desperate, Catherine turns to Mr. O’Leary, a wealthy pawnbroker and a man of questionable character. In an effort to secure Anne’s future, Catherine arranges for her to stay with Alice at Lesington Hall. Through the love of Aunt Alice and cousin Eleanor, Anne thrives over the next several years while learning about her father and his side of the family. On a trip to France, she meets Dr. Anthony Hathaway, a man who once planned to marry Alice. As Anne plans to reunite him with her aunt, she also meets Hathaway’s son John, with whom she falls in love. However, when a man from her past returns, Anne faces new decisions. The latest from Kennedy is an enchanting work of historical fiction bolstered by an appealing heroine and well-developed supporting characters. Anne is a sympathetic, likable heroine who always puts the needs of others above her own. The narrative unfolds briskly over a period of several years, charting her development from an 11-year-old orphan to a mature young woman of 18. She’s complemented by strong supporting players, including Alice, Hathaway, and Charlotte Phillipps, a vicar’s sister whose haughty demeanor masks a hidden talent and a fun-loving side. Kennedy’s narrative is further enhanced by period details that bring Anne’s world into focus, particularly when she leaves Lesington Hall for a trip to New York with a school friend; in exuberant letters home, Anne describes seeing Niagara Falls and meeting a man who fought in the Civil War.
A charming work that may appeal to fans of Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters.