I could provide you lists upon lists of novels, both traditionally published and author published, that I would NOT recommend you read, but that’s not my job here. Instead, I get to share the worthy…which are tough to find–tough as finding those proverbial hen’s teeth of barnyard fame.
Happily, today, I bring you a legitimate 4.5 star novel, written by a professional who’s long taught writing to others, even as she neglected her own talent. Retired, now, from both editing and from teaching, she’s turned back to her first love, penning extraordinary novels and short stories.
Today’s novel that I am very proud to present?
I warn you. You will desperately want to run in and rescue. You will feel hope rise, only to be shattered, then rise, again.
I warn you. You are looking at a real portrayal of life as it was in the Victorian era in the Yorkshire Dales.
I warn you. This is not a pretty tale throughout, though it does have its beautiful moments. What this tale is, is richly heart-felt. It will stay with you long after you’ve turned (or swiped) to the last page.
Tizzie is a significant novel, full of historical accuracy in both the details of the life and times, and of the human slavery practiced in England during the reign of Queen Victoria (and before and after)–white slavery, familial slavery, and, especially the enslaving of women. Don’t quibble about reading words identifying things commonplace at the time, names of things long since lost to antiquity–words like ‘lanthorn’ and ‘shippon’–strange words, perhaps, but presented neatly in context, so you can easily guess at meaning. Don’t quibble about the Queen’s English, because, after all, this is a historical novel, not something dressed up in pretense, delivered in 21st Century Manglish. (And, yes, P.D.R. Lindsay does write this story in all but that age’s Queen’s English–not quite–but enough so you get a good feel and tenor.) Don’t quibble because, in its delivery lies a magic, a magic that will bring you to live and breathe Tizzie’s days.
Tizzie is a heroine that you will never, ever forget. More, you will never forget her story. The book is that powerful. In fact, you won’t forget any of people portrayed, not the sister-in-law, not the brother, not the nephews, and certainly never little Agnes.
Mostly, though, you’ll come away loving poor, loving, gentle, plain-minded Tizzie. You’ll love her very dearly. You’ll cheer for her to succeed, despite her lot, despite all odds, and, yes, the odds are and have been stacked against her and her precious Agnes from birth. You’ll see why and how.
In her own way, Tizzie does succeed in achieving freedom, though not the way you might have hoped. But this isn’t Jane Eyre. This isn’t a fairy tale. This is reality, based in historical accuracy and upon the memories of people who lived the times. And you’ll be glad you read it. You’ll be glad you understand.
So, if I think this highly of the story, why only four-and-a-half stars?
Well, there are some oddities in punctuation that I just can’t ignore, despite knowing that Brits do spell and punctuate quite differently. That’s not the most of it, though. This is a frame story, and, while I understand why it was thusly written, I would have preferred the ending handled a little more deftly, matching the extreme mastery of craft exhibited throughout the rest of the book.
…Oh, and do read the author’s historical afterward upon reaching the end of the novel. Just turn the page. And read. The first few lines are especially significant.
About The Reviewer:
D. L. Keur is an artist, a musician, and an author in her own right. Her titles span multiple genres and include science fiction (Aeros), paranormal mainstream and psychological suspense (E. J. Ruek), and Western Romance/Family Saga (C. J. “Country” James).
You can find her and her novels online at DLKeur.com.