17 Oct 2023


 Today on Pen and Paper, two historical quickies set in the late 1800's and early 1900's respectively.



Ruby Carter has always been protected from her cruel father by her beloved mother. That is until she is stricken with a fatal illness and from her deathbed,  reveals that Ruby was adopted. Overcome by grief and alone with the violent man she once called her father, young Ruby has no choice but to flee. Homeless and frightened she is relieved when a kindly stranger named Mrs Bamber takes pity on her and welcomes the poor girl into her home.

But soon, Ruby learns Mrs Bamber is not as generous as she first seemed - she forces Ruby into a life of crime as a thief in Birmingham's jewellery quarter. But Ruby is determined that she will atone for what she's done, and be reunited with her birth parents.

Ruby's only wish is to find her family.

An adoring mother with a secret that is revealed on her death bed, a drunken, abusive father {whilst not particularly graphic there is a rape}, a daughter who finding herself all alone in the world is taken in by a woman who, not as she at first seems, soon puts her 'house guest' to work.

Drawn into the dark under-belly of Victorian Birmingham, Ruby, the heroine of the story, rather oddly put me in mind of a female Oliver Twist in the way she is recruited to a life of crime.

I thought this an enjoyable enough read but, typical of its type, one that I felt I had read many times before. However, I do like a good, heart warming, rags to riches story and in this respect A Simple Wish did not disappoint. 


After the death of their parents, sisters Poppy and Rose are taken in by widow Nellie Harper. But whilst they have a roof over their heads, the young orphans are unloved, unwanted, and always hungry, with only one pair of boots between them. Keen to make money, Nellie hatches a plan to sell the girls to the mysterious Mr Scurrfield. But when the day comes for them to leave, Scurrfield reveals he will take only one of the sisters - and he will decide which it will be on the turn of a sixpence.

Ten years later, Poppy is married with three children. Not a day goes by when she doesn't think about Rose, but after many years of searching, Poppy has accepted that her sister is lost to her. That is until a letter suddenly arrives, revealing Rose's fate and breaking Poppy's heart. Determined to be reunited with her beloved sister, Poppy sets out to bring Rose home.

Whilst I did enjoy the author's  A Mother's Christmas Wish the writing did put me in mind of the late Catherine Cookson, not so The Sixpenny Orphan in which Glenda Young came into their own. 

From the salt of the earth type to the downright unlikable; from those you'll find yourself rooting for to, well, those, you most definitely won't, the characters are certainly memorable and then there's the poverty and inequality of early 1900's Ryhope which is positively  palpable. That the author is passionate about the history of this small part of North East England and its people shows in her writing of this gripping historical saga.

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Kelly said...

Both of these sound like they'd be a good way to pass some time. I'm really not sure which one sounds better. Maybe the second?

Jo-Anne's Ramblings said...

They sound like interesting books

nightwingsraven said...

Of the two books which you reviewed
here. The Sixpenny Orphan piqued my
curiosity and I will keep it in mind.
And thank you for your excellent review.

Sophia Rose said...

I enjoy the occasional historical so I'm glad to get your thoughts on both. Nice that they're set outside London.

sherry fundin said...

Not really my kind of books, but thanks for sharing your review.
sherry @ fundinmental

Nadene @Ttly Addicted 2 Reading said...

They both sound lovely, but I am more intrigued by A Simple Wish.

Literary Feline said...

A Simple Wish does sound like a nice, heartwarming story. I also like the sound of The Sixpenny Orphan. Thank you for bringing these to my attention.