It is nearing the end of the nineteenth century in Newcastle upon Tyne. The shipbuilding industry is growing and the bleak weather and landscape is as challenging as ever and knows nothing about what is happening to the folk who walk the land.
Gil is the second son, he is the spare and he is treated with such contempt and disgust by his father and brother that it is any wonder he seeks friendship with a local girl, Abby, daughter of a shipbuilder and lost following the death of her mother. One night, they make snow angels on the ground, and a bond is formed.
Over time something grows, but it can never be. Neither family will agree to any sort of match. But then Gil meets his prospective sister in law, Helen and the bond is broken through Gil’s passion for Helen. Something that must remain hidden, but is his friendship with Abby broken beyond repair or will fate and circumstances drive the back together.
It seems not as marriage, death, births, financial despair all come together and secrets held become secrets told and truths start to ruin everyone.
This book is very much of the Catherine Cookson vibe and if you enjoyed reading them then this is very much a book for you. You have the dark brooding hero, almost Heathcliff like at points. The father who seemingly drops one son for another as they succeed and fail in many different areas of their life. The forgotten lover who turns to another man and another life to heal her heart, only to realise perhaps too late where her true heart belongs. It has the right elements of a saga and although at times it was a bit slow paced and the ending slightly hurried it was a book to lose yourself in.
Elizabeth Gill is a recent discovery for me and I have reviewed her most recent novel here Miss Appleby’s Academy.