Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Diana reviews: The Green Ribbons by Clare Flynn

The Green Ribbons: Clare Flynn

Please comment on the blog to be in with a chance to win an e-copy of this wonderful book.

How far will she go to save her marriage? How far will he go to keep his promise?

1900. Eighteen-year-old Hephzibah Wildman's world is turned upside down when she loses her parents in a tragic accident. Homeless and destitute, she must leave the security of the Oxford college where her stepfather was Dean, to earn her living as a governess at Ingleton Hall.

Befriending Merritt Nightingale, the local parson and drawn to the handsome Thomas Egdon, she starts to build a new life for herself. When she attracts the unwanted advances of her employer, the country squire, Sir Richard Egdon, she makes the first of two desperate decisions that will change not only her own life but the lives of those around her


This book is marketed in the categories of Romance and Women’s fiction, not genres that I would normally chose, so it was with a degree of resignation that I agreed to read this for the Review, but I was in for a pleasant surprise. The story is gritty and realistic and captured me within the first ten minutes and kept its hold throughout

The story is told from two main points of view, that of Hephzibah Wildman, an orphan who accepts a position as a governess in desperation, and that of Merritt Nightingale, the clergyman of the parish in which she finds herself, a former student of her late Professor step father.

The characters are finely drawn and believable and in the case of the squire, rather larger than life and full of his own importance (as often seems to be the case with such figures).

The author shows a remarkable sense of understanding of the psyche of these people and what makes them ‘tick’ and must be a great student of human nature.  Her verbal depiction of a person in the first stages of love are so very realistic that  it makes the reader yearn for those bittersweet days.

The level of research that Flynn has done to accurately portray the revolt of 1830 and life in a poorhouse is reflected in her words and her love of nature and keen observational skills are shown by a description of a kingfisher so beautiful that I could see it in front of my eyes.

Being a lover of literature, I particularly appreciated the beautiful and very apt quotes that are at the beginning of each chapter. They both added to the tone of the chapter and hinted at what was to come and what was past.

Dialogue is rich and believable and at times, humorous. I won’t give any spoilers, but the conversation about sexual relations between the Reverend Nightingale and a Mr Carver had me smiling really broadly.

Here is an excerpt, not the Mr Carver conversation, but one between the two main characters:

"I was rash and impetuous in marrying Thomas.’ She gulped and buried her head in his shoulder. ‘I should have waited. I would have realised in the end that I love you, wouldn’t I? You would have made me realise it. I am such a stupid fool, blind and shallow. How can you possibly love me, Merritt, when I have been so foolish?’

‘Blame me, not yourself, Hephzibah.’ He stroked her hair and kissed the top of her head. ‘I was too slow to declare my feelings.’ He shook his head. ‘No, worse than that. I didn’t declare them at all. We might have gone through life without ever knowing what we could mean to each other if you hadn’t asked me to do this.’

She sat up. ‘Oh God! Do you believe I asked you to do this as an excuse to seduce you? What must you think of me?’

‘Of course I don’t think that. I know you were surprised at what we feel for each other,’ he said.

‘It’s not just about doing this, though. About making love,’ she said. ‘This is the way it is only because there was already a strong feeling between us. I just hadn’t realised it. I have always loved being with you, Merritt. Our walks in the woods and by the canal. Our conversations. The work we did together on the lending library. Whenever you tell me anything I’m fascinated. I could listen to you talking for ever."

The final chapters were a surprise. Whether this was a good surprise for Hephzibah or a bad surprise , well, I will leave that for you to judge when you read the book!

About the Author:

Clare Flynn writes historical fiction with a strong sense of time and place and compelling characters. Her books often deal with characters who are displaced - forced out of their comfortable lives and familiar surroundings. She is a graduate of Manchester University where she read English Language and Literature. After a career in international marketing, working on brands from nappies to tinned tuna and living in Paris, Milan, Brussels and Sydney, she ran her own consulting business for 15 years and now lives in Eastbourne where she writes full-time – and can look out of her window and see the sea. When not writing and reading, Clare loves to paint with watercolours and grabs any available opportunity to travel - sometimes under the guise of research.

What other people say:

“If you like historical fiction with well-developed characters and a vivid sense of time and place, you'll love The Green Ribbons.’’

By Mrs PAB on 9 May 2016

Format: Kindle Edition

“I received an advance copy of this book in exchange for my review. What a pleasure to read, perfect for those long leisurely days on a sunbed, or any other opportunity to relax. Whenever I needed to put the book down it was easy to pick it up and continue reading without having to go back several pages to remind myself of the story and its players. Descriptions were mini stories themselves, pulling the reader into each scene and bringing each character to life. A story of a young girl's change in circumstances after the tragic loss of her parents, how she finds employment, avoids advances from her employer and finds love. Sounds predicable, not with the Clare Flynn writing this story. An unusual request with a surprising result together with and an unexpected twist in the final pages, a perfect easy-read. My only regret is the name of the main character - Helphzibar (sic) - despite her name appearing on practically every other page I still cannot pronounce it! I thoroughly recommend this book if you are looking for an enjoyable read.”

The book is available in both paperback and Kindle Edition from: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Green-Ribbons-Clare-Flynn-ebook/dp/B01EVIFWP4


Reviewed by Diana Milne, letterpress seller extraordinaire and author of a series of shopping lists.

© Diana Milne August 2016.





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