Fragile Blossoms by Dodie Hamilton is a romantic historical fiction novel set in the Edwardian period. This book is a delight to read - I can honestly say after years of reviews that seldom do you come across a writer with such a voice and such a heroine who can lift you up and put you into another world so deftly. Beautifully written...
Julianna Dryden is a celebrated beauty and muse for the great and the good - and is the protégée of the dubious wealthy Lady Evelyn who has a disreputable brother - oh yes, it is Georgette Heyer all the way but with such a modern twist - until she inherits a house. But a little house with such a legend - once a teashop to two mysterious and difficult sisters. Julianna and her little son Matty seek an escape and here it is. Our heroine is a widow and so must rely on her patroness which is increasingly a burden due to her attentions.... So off to Norfolk and Sandringham (and yes, the king makes an appearance) where Julianna befriends the publican and a dark, handsome builder who helps with the teashop unwillingly.
Julianna wants the shop to be a success; and so it looks until scandal looms through no fault of her own - and then Julianna finds friends fall away and her son in danger.
This is the sort of book that cheers you. Our heroine is so engaging but not a pushover and you root for her all the way as the scattering of great names test her. Yes, some of the plot is implausible, some of it over romantic, but that does not detract from writing that lifts you up.
Why the author hasn't found a publisher I don't know - except that this novel could be edited by a good quarter and in the middle it did weigh as I turned pages to get on and needed to pick up - and way, way too many points of view dropped in - with a better editor this would be such a good book. So give it a go.
© Jeffrey Manton
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