Wild Rose is set in 15th Century Yorkshire while the Wars of the Roses are still being waged, so I turned to the first page expecting a work of historical fiction, a genre which seems to have become incredibly popular in the past few years. However, whereas the likes of Philippa Gregory focus on royalty and historically important figures, Pauline Donaldson's central character is the simple but kind-hearted Alice, daughter of a kitchen maid, living alone in an abandoned shepherd's shelter in a deserted valley and surviving by catching rabbits and fish, making drinks from heather and other wild plants and selling the wool that she manages to collect from her surroundings.
This pastoral setting and simple lifestyle contrast sharply with the political machinations and courtly tensions of most other historical fiction that I have read and left me feeling somewhat ambivalent. While I enjoyed seeing how the "common people" lived, I did feel that it was missing some of the drama and suspense that comes with more aristocratic characters. Even the Wars of the Roses and their consequences barely get a mention.
Alice's simple life is soon thrown into upheaval when, returning from market, she discovers a small child sobbing by her dead mother's body, apparently the victims of roadside robbers. Taking the child, Cissy, into her care, life continues as normal until - several years down the line - she discovers the child's father is in fact a baron, and reunites the long-lost father and daughter. Accompanying Cissy into her new castle home until she settles in, Alice discovers how the other half live and, I have to admit, from this point on, I knew exactly where the story was going.
It's a pleasant read, more Mills & Boon romance than real historical fiction, with appealing characters and an interesting insight into life at the time. I would have liked to see some of the more complex characters, notably Olivia, developed in more detail to give the book some more depth and action though. (STOP PRESS ! : The author tells me that Olivia will appear in the sequel, so we should all find out more about her then ! )
star rating : 4/5
RRP : £13.99
- Paperback: 350 pages
- Publisher: Xlibris Corporation (10 Dec 2010)
- Language English
- ISBN-10: 1456809180
- ISBN-13: 978-1456809188
- Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 22.9 x 2 cm
Disclaimer : I received a free review copy of the book.
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