Thanks to our Guest Star Michael for contributing the following review.
Set in Victorian England, this novel tells of two teenage girls, one from a well-to-do family, big house, servants, father in the Army, and the other the child of a single mum, living in slum housing typical of the time. Just before Christmas, each girl’s mother dies in childbirth, leaving Polly orphaned and Rosalie trying to manage a house full of servants, try to get a message to her father away in India, but both of them having to make the necessary arrangements whilst dealing with their loss.
One the same day, at either end of the same graveyard, their respective mothers are buried, Rosalie’s in style, Polly’s in a pauper’s grave.
As Rosalie gets organised, she advertises for a scullery maid, and Polly, finding out from a friend, takes the job. From then on, Rosalie and Polly develop a friendship well beyond their servant/lady positions and the book tells of their growing up, and where they go and who they ultimately meet.
This book is well researched, with good local knowledge and an interesting insight into the living conditions, relative status and indeed attitudes of the mid-Victorian era. It does make you realise how much attitudes have changed, especially in men’s view of women, and it is rare nowadays to come across people who are in domestic service to the aristocracy. And there’s the obligatory happy ending!