7 Aug 2018



As the nineteenth century draws towards a close, Mary Ann Sate, an elderly maidservant, sets out to write her truth.

She writes of the Valleys that she loves, of the poisonous rivalry between her employer's two sons and of a terrible choice which tore her world apart.

Her haunting and poignant story brings to life a period of strife and rapid social change, and evokes the struggles of those who lived in poverty and have been forgotten by history.

In this fictional found memoir, novelist Alice Jolly uses the astonishing voice of Mary Ann to recreate history as seen from a woman's perspective and to give joyful, poetic voice to the silenced women of the past.
- Inner front Cover Blurb

This manuscript was found at a house called Mount Vernon that is at the top of Butterrow Hill, just outside the town of Stroud, in the county of Gloucestershire.
- First Sentence, Note

The leg underneath is soft and swollen
Like marrow ovr ripe and split all open
Fat and purple and also green in some place
Smell sharp sweet dead flesh
- Memorable Moment, Page 28

SOURCE ... Received with thanks from the author.


MY THOUGHTS ... Written whilst caring for her ailing master, Mary Ann Sate, puts pen to paper and tells her life story. A story that is lost only to be uncovered some years later during a house renovation. 

Set out to look like verse (you could be forgiven for initially believing this to be an extended poem) and with not a single full stop in its 600+ pages. Brave and ambitious; yes, but, it worked to great effect ... once you got used to the rhythm.

Meticulously researched, tackling sweeping social change; seamlessly weaving social commentary in a sprawling, evocative, very human story that swept me away. Its heroine utterly beguiling; her voice authentic; ordinary and yet simultaneously extraordinary. This is well worth a look if you are looking not only for some good historical fiction but also something that is deliciously different.


Brian Joseph said...

Thus sounds extraordinary. It seems like such an innovative and original idea. It is interesting that it is written in verse. It seems like that would be an unlikely choice for a person of this time period.

Felicity Grace Terry said...

Innovative ... That's the word I was searching for in my review, thanks Brian.

It isn't actually written in verse but is set out as though it were. Either way it has a lovely rhythm all of its own.

DMS said...

This does sound different. I have read other books that have a rhythm to get into and I have usually found them well worth the time to adjust to they style or format (not always). This sounds like a great read. Thanks for sharing. :)

Kelly said...

I'm intrigued by the storyline, but don't know how I'd feel about the format. It's one I might have to pick up and thumb through to try and get a feel for before deciding whether or not to read it. Your review certainly makes it sound appealing.

Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer said...

You've piqued my curiosity Tracy from the format to the story that unfolds.

Melliane said...

it's nice to have something different

Yvonne@fiction-books said...

I checked out the first few pages of this book over at Amazon and have to say that I struggled with the format.

Maybe if the book had been a little shorter, I might have been able to get into the flow and enjoyed the beautifully descriptive verse, but being such a chunkster tome, I really don't feel up to the challenge.

Oh! and I just love that cover art!

Alice is a new to me author though and I really do like the sound of some of her other books, so I am off to check those out now.

Thanks for sharing and I hope that all is well with you :)


Suko said...

Tracy, I'm glad that you enjoyed this new book. It does sound deliciously different. Excellent review!

Mary (Bookfan) said...

Loved your review. Sounds like a fascinating story and style. Great cover too.

nightwingsraven said...

From what you said about
the heroine,unusual format
and story in your excellent
review. You have definitely
convinced me to add the book
to my list.

Shooting Stars Mag said...

It does seem like the writing style would take a bit to get used to. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed this one though. :)


sherry fundin said...

Great review. I love the phrase deliciously different. :-)
sherry @ fundinmental

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

Oh I do like unique and this sounds like it pulls it off well. Might have to see if my library has it. Brilly review.