Books

The Rose Garden – Tracy Rees

Wake up and smell the roses world, because women are no longer going to capitulate, they will branch out on their own. Making friendships and decisions that will shock the society of 1895 when this book is set, steeped in Victorian values. The author takes us to the past as much as the present.

1895, London, Hampstead. Olive’s life is full of privilege, she knows how lucky she is, but she craves to have a child. A difficulty when unmarried in 1895. However that does not stop head strong Olive and her sense of philanthropy leading her to an orphanage.

Mabs, has become the matriarch of the household after her mother dies, with younger siblings and a grieving father, she works on the canals, disguised as a young boy. It is some of the most dangerous work. An opportunity though takes to her to Hampstead, to be a companion of Mrs Finch.

Young Ottilie Finch, is only twelve and along with her family, they are newly arrived from Durham. For reasons we do not know but are of some intrigue. Ottillie wants to explore this new territory and finds herself meeting some very different people and cannot understand others abuse about the friendships she wants to build.

Women and girls, who are all on different paths in life, but through the magic of storytelling all come together and their worlds mix and collide. What you think of perhaps as modern day problems; racism; domestic abuse and sexism is played out in this historical context and was at times upsetting but also heartening to know that we have progressed from having to dress up as males to seek work.

This book wanted me to cheer out loud for these female characters who were facing society head on. It had me hooked as I knew it would from this author and I felt bereft when it ended as I wanted to know more about these wonderful women and what happens next in their story.

Simply engrossing and one of my favourite reads of 2021.

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.

The Rose Garden is out now.