I was thrilled to read and review the latest historical fiction from Tracy Rees who is one of of the authors I really must read as I know I am going to get such a wonderful story. The Elopement did not disappoint.
It is the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria, the nation is all of a flutter as are the residents of the Blythe Household. However amongst all this preparation a secret is trying to be kept. Rowena Blythe, beautiful, spoilt and full of her own self importance with no thought of anyone else is about to do something that will see her shunned from her own society.
Pansy is a servant in the Blythe Household and is treated with disdain by the likes of Rowena and her sister in law, Verity. Pansy knows she wants to do something more with her life, but the opportunities are not always there. That is until her own mother challenges her to do something to make her happy.
Olive Westallen who is known to readers if they have read The Rose Garden, is something of an enigma. She is part of the society that Rowena frequents but she has forged her own path without obeying convention. Unmarried, with two adopted young children, working for the greater good for those who are less unfortunate than her. Olive for me is a woman before her time, a woman that has characteristics that resonate now in the 21st Century as it does for the character at the cusp of the 20th.
As these three woman, cross paths at different points throughout the story, each telling their own version of what they see. the story moves forward and shows the lives that could be led, shows the lives that are led and the ones that almost snubbed out because of their position in society.
This book is a wealth of social history, not just the jubilee celebrations reminiscent of what we have seen this year and in years previous. But also the workers that toil in the hat factories in appalling working conditions in contrast to one woman Miss Orme, working in law, “devilling” the only way she could without being qualified – because what was against her was the fact she was a woman.
The Elopement and The Rose Garden are books which are rich in strong (and weak) female characters who reflect how much has changed for the better to enable readers like me to forge my own path in life. However it is worth noting, that whilst time has moved on, there are still some battles still to be won or won again. So much resonated with me in this book and I simply want to know more about where these characters are going to go and what they are about to discover about the world that they have ultimately been sheltered from by the fact that they are women.
Perfect historical fiction for any women, or anyone who wants to champion forging your own path in life and whilst fulfilling your own happiness, helping others along the way. Thank you Tracy Rees you are doing that for me with these novels. Long may they continue.
Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.
The Elopement is out tomorrow.
You can read about The Rose Garden the first novel to feature Olive Westallen here.