It’s been a while since I posted a historical fiction review here. How very unlike me. No worries, today’s review will right the world again.
The Rector’s Daughter by Jean Fullerton
Charlotte, daughter of Reverend Percival Hatton, has been content to follow the path laid out for her. Charlotte has an understanding with Captain Nicolas Paget – every inch the gentleman – who she expects someday to marry. But then she meets Josiah Martyn, and everything changes…
A driven and ambitious Cornish mining engineer, and the complete opposite to Captain Nicholas, Josiah has come to London to help build the first tunnel under the river Thames. When unpredictable events occur at the inauguration of the project, Josiah and Charlotte are suddenly thrown into an unexpected intimacy.
But not everyone is happy with Charlotte and Josiah growing closer. As friends turn to foes, will they be able to rewrite the stars and find their happy ever after, although all odds seem to be stacked against them…?
The Rector’s Daughter isn’t the most thrilling book in the world. You won’t get the twists and turns that keep you guessing, and some might say that the storyline is somewhat predictable. If you decide to skip out on this book because of those last two lines, you are a silly person indeed.
The story is set during an interesting time in England, when the tunnel was being built under the Themes. What a reflection it is on the attitudes of the time! I saw another part of London than I usually get from historical fiction books. It moves away from the hustle and bustle of city life and instead chooses to focus on a parish. It doesn’t have the usual rich versus poor theme but something more interesting. The Reverend is supposed to be a good Christian man but is far from it. He, among others, looks down on manual workers, as well as those who have to go to unsavoury means to provide for their family. He is all about status and nothing about love, compassion or, at the very least, empathy. It shows that snobbery wasn’t just for the very rich.
The Reverend’s relationship with his daughter, Charlotte, is one I will leave you to explore yourself. What I will say is that she is a good use of character to show just what women had to put up with back then. How glad I am that we have come along for those times. But not completely. Women still do not have control over their bodies, and minds, for that matter, and snobbery towards manual labourers is still rife. It is beyond me why some people look down on those that bring us the essentials in life: electricity, running water, a roof over our heads.
Overall, this was a beautiful piece of historical fiction that gave me an insight into another part of London. A quick pace that is in no way rushed, The Rector’s Daughter is a thumbs up from me.
I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.