Author: Rosie Garland
Genre: Historical Fiction
First published: 2014
Edition: Hardback, published by The Borough Press in 2014
Devon, 1349. In Brauntone, where seagulls screech across the fields and the wind has a mind to change, Father Thomas arrives as the new priest. Determined to impress his congregation, he quells fears of the coming pestilence with promises of protection.
For Anne, the priest’s arrival is an opportunity that at sixteen, she feels all too ready for. Convinced a grand fate awaits, she moves in as Thomas’s housekeeper, though hopeful of something more. But his home is a place without love or kindness. So when a strange, mute Maid is discovered, washed up in the marshes, and taken in, Anne is grateful for the company. Their friendship is to give Anne the chance of a happiness she thought she’d never know.
I am struggling to put my thoughts on this book into words. This is an oddball book and kind of quaint, but in the end I think I kind of liked it.
Initially I was pulled in by the beautiful cover. Yes, I admit that this was a cover buy. Look at it!
It certainly took me a bit of bewilderment to get into the book, but once I got to know our main characters I was invested in the Maid and Anne especially. The three perspectives (one male, two female) contrast each other very well. Their views of the world around them is so different.
In the beginning I thought this would be a magical realism tale, but it was a very human story instead. It explores superstition, gender roles and religion in a climate of fear, but also humanity and love. The writing did retain a touch of otherworldliness throughout and it did mean I felt I was being kept at a distance. I did feel that it suited this story, so I did not mind that.
This novel won’t be for everyone and it did not quite win me over, but I appreciated it and grew to enjoy it.
4 out of 7 stars