Thursday 14 June 2018

A Discovering Diamonds review of Field Of Dust by Angela Jean Young

 AMAZON UK £3.99 £8.46
AMAZON US $5.62 $13.54 
AMAZON CA $6.77 $16.94

Biographical fiction / Family drama

Flossie is a young girl waiting for her mother to tumble out of the local hostelry when she witnesses the sinking of the Princess Alice at Northfleet, where the Grant family lives. Samuel Grant works in one of the local cement factories and Mary, Flossie's mother, takes in washing to supplement her dependence on gin. Flossie has a younger sister, Lottie. Thus we have a background of one family amongst many others suffering in the poverty of the Victorian age.

The author paints a vivid picture of life in the North Kent slums and some of the characters that populated them. She is also able to include some memorable happenings – from Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show to Jack the Ripper – as well as an insight into the newly founded homes of Dr Barnado where the girls are taken by their mother when she abandons them to return to her native Ipswich. Devastated by this action and confused that their mother handed them over with a different surname, Flossie is determined to find the truth about why their mother left – the more so when Lottie is sent to Canada by the Barnado's authorities. Slowly, as she grows up, she finds the terrible truth about both her mother and father and a face from the past suddenly reappears.

This is an interesting read and has an easy pace, to it but for me I felt that there was some ‘telling’ and not enough ‘showing’ in the narrative, especially in the first ‘scene setting’  chapters where little happens until the girls are deposited at Dr Barnado's. Nevertheless, I can recommend this book to anyone interested in Family History and/or the plight of poor families in the Victorian slums, as the research seems good, and the historical aspect is intriguing.

© Richard Tearle

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