Today Sharon Bennett Connolly reviews Lea Croft by Angela Rigley. The author has kindly offered an ebook as a giveaway. To be in with a chance of winning this fabulous story, simply leave a comment below of on our Facebook Page.
The winner will be drawn on 21st February 2018.
If I am honest, I wasn't sure what to expect of Lea Croft, when I picked it from the Review reading list. I certainly wasn't expecting a hard-hitting, down-to-earth murder mystery drama that sucks you in and leaves you guessing to the very last paragraph. Angela Rigley has created a wonderful tale of life in a small, sleepy Derbyshire village, centred around the death of a man, Herbert Grant, who no-one liked. It is not giving away a spoiler to tell you the book opens with Herbert's death - possibly murder - an event which awakens the sleepy village and leads to endless speculation as to what happened and who did it.
The sleepy village of Lea Croft in Victorian Derbyshire is awoken when the body of the farmer's son, Herbert Grant, is found down a gully. Martha Holloway suspects her husband, Charlie, of killing him in revenge for her being assaulted by him in the past. When Charlie goes missing in a landslide, to make ends meet, Martha has to find a job at the farm, where her younger sisters, Jessica, aged 15, and pregnant by an unknown father, and Charlotte, work as milkmaids. Charlie reappears but tells her not to tell anybody he is still alive. Herbert's brother, Ronald, fancies Charlotte, but will he pluck up the courage to tell her? He is arrested for Herbert's murder. But will he be found guilty, and what happens to Charlie?
Poor Martha Holloway is then drawn into the story, suspecting her husband, a brute of a man it is not easy to like. Martha is a wonderful creation, the lead protagonist and a downtrodden woman trying to balance work, her family and her fears. A 24-year-old mother of two, with two teenage sisters to keep an eye on, too, she tries her hardest to hold everything together.
Six-year old Tommy Holloway ran into the kitchen where his mother, Martha, stood kneading bread. "Mam, Mama, they've found a body!"
"Really, dear? How nice." She wasn't really listening, as her thoughts were elsewhere.
"But, Mam ... it's a real one."
"A real what, darling?" She looked up, brushing her floury hands over her heart-shaped face.
"A ... real ... body." Hands on hips, defying her to mistake his meaning, he glared, his little uptirned nose twitching.
"Yes, Mam, in the gully. They say it looks like its been there ages."
"A man or a woman?" He finally had her full attention.
"Um." Screwing up his face, he scratched his nose. "I don't know. It's just a body. I'm going ot see if Jimmy's playing. He always knows everything." He pulled his cap over his long fair hair. MArtha had been intending to cut it for the last week oor so, but had not found the time.
She took off her apron. "I'll come with you. This is something I don't want to miss."
Grabbing her hand, he dragged her out the door. "Come on then. Quick, before they take it away."
Growing up in South Yorkshire, close to the Derbyshire, I know the area in which Lea Croft is set. The book does an excellent job of evoking the atmosphere of country life in Victorian England. The locations are beautifully recreated and the language draws the reader back, not only to the era but to the location. Colloquial words are used sparingly, but are all the more noticeable as a result, such as 'snap' for a packed lunch - said to come from when the tin snaps closed - and 'trump' for flatulence.
The novel itself is a wonderful creation; the story of how a community reacts to a suspicious death within its midst, an event that may not have happened before within living memory The simple, tight-knit community is suddenly suspicious and distrusting. How would you feel, knowing that someone in your midst is a murderer?
Despite the subject matter, this is not a dark, scary book. And Angela Rigley pulls off an incredible balance, between telling the story of a murder, and the everyday lives of the inhabitants, to give us a unique, unmissable novel.
About the author
I am married to Don, have 5 children and eight grandchildren and live in Derbyshire. My hobbies include singing in my church choir; genealogy, having traced ancestors back to 1520; gardening; flower arranging; playing Scrabble; Sudoku; meals out; family gatherings; and, when I have any spare time I love to read. I am the treasurer of Eastwood Writers’ Group. At church I am an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, a reader, a flower arranger and a member of the fundraising team for Cafod, my favourite charity. In the past I have written hymns, words and music, although I cannot read music. You can find me on Twitter: @angierigley, Facebook, LinkedIn, and my website is www.nunkynoo.yolasite.com
About Sharon Bennett Connolly
Sharon has been fascinated by history for over 30 years.She has studied history at university and worked as a tour guide at several historic sites. She has lived in Paris and London before settling down back in a little village in her native Yorkshire, with husband James and their soon-to-be-teenage son.
Sharon has been writing a blog entitled 'History...the Interesting Bits' for a little over 2 years and has just finished her first non-fiction work, 'Heroines of the Medieval World'. The book looks at the lives of the women – some well known and some almost forgotten to history – who broke the mould; those who defied social norms and made their own future, consequently changing lives, society and even the course of history.
Heroines of the Medieval World, is now available in hardback in the UK from both Amberley Publishing and Amazon UK and worldwide from Book Depository. It is also available on Kindle in both the UK and USA and will be available in Hardback from Amazon US from 1 May 2018.