I usually don't read historical fiction but I am certainly glad I read this novel. Dotta says she has been working on this novel since she was nineteen. I believe it. It was good. There were a couple of defects, like the abrupt ending, but otherwise a very good debut novel.
year old Julia Elliston is mourning her mother's recent death. She is
unmarried and orphaned. It is England in 1838 and such a girl is the
property of her mysterious, unknown guardian. All she knows of him is
that he plans to send her off to Scotland in two months to be
someone's maid. A woman offers to introduce Julia to a suitable man
to marry – for a price. Julia wants to marry her childhood
sweetheart but is devastated to find he is now a vicar. Julia is the
daughter of a very vocal atheist and she herself was severely hurt by
a man of the cloth. There is little hope of that marriage anyway as
it is forbidden by her guardian.
treachery and deception that were a part of the Victorian society
soon envelopes Julia. She has the possibility of marrying a wealthy
man. And she is attracted to him, even though he is twice her age.
But the rumors about him are of violence. She finds herself in the
middle of a deadly game and she does not know who to believe.
as I read the book, I did not know who to believe either. Dotta did a
great job keeping me, the reader, as confused as Julia as to the
character of those surrounding her. I really felt for Julia as she is
controlled by men who say they want to protect her, yet there is
great danger lurking around every twist in the novel. I was unsure
how it was going to work out until the very end. And then it ends
abruptly! Either Dotta is setting us up for a sequel or, she didn't
know how to resolve the remaining issues so just ended the novel.
are many lies and hidden truths in this book. People felt they were
protecting Julia but she concludes, “I have found that those trying
to shield us from the truth, regardless of the reason, end up doing
the greatest harm. Truth alone sets you free, not lies and
are discussion questions at the end of the book that are thought
provoking. This would make a good selection for a reading group.
lives in the Nashville area with her family and works as a
freelance media consultant and publicist. You can find out more about
her at www.jessicadotta.com.
House, 448 pages.
received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for
the purpose of this review.