review by Maryom
Pell Ridley runs away from home rather than drift into a marriage that will bring nothing but hard work and constant child-bearing. Somewhere, she feels, there has to be a better, fuller, life than this. Taking her horse, Jack, and her adopted brother, Bean, who refuses to be left behind, she heads to Salisbury Fair looking for work. But through a series of mishaps Pell becomes separated from her brother and horse, and she then heads out alone into unknown countryside looking for both them and her wished-for better life, on a journey of self-discovery.
This isn't a book turned up in the post for review but one recommended to me by a friend - fortunately, one who's on the same reading wavelength. She was right - this is a wonderful, bewitching book. I was instantly transported back in time to a place of unremitting labour where children are sent out to work "as soon as they emerged from babyhood", where hunger "barely deserved a second thought", and yet Pell remains hopeful that somewhere, somehow she will find a better life. The setting and plot don't seem very hopeful of an enchanting book - and yet it is, with echoes of Thomas Hardy's Wessex and a narrative style reminiscent of George Mackay Brown. One I'd recommend for teens and adults alike.
Maryom's review - 5 stars
Publisher - Penguin Books
Genre - YA - Historical - Romance
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