This is a beautifully written story set in Cornwall and Wales in the early 1900s, involving family secrets, love and suffragettes.
Merely 100 years on, it is poignant to read how far we have come, witnessing the prejudice and outright stupid arguments against the women’s vote.
Greenwood has chosen great characters for her story: a fallen family which is somewhat torn apart; Sybil, who just took over their old house and who has an interesting background, too, and the people who meet at the White Camellia.
The prose is full of wonderful descriptive details, the pace perfect and the setting authentic. Moving, and with an ending worth waiting for, this has held my attention throughout.
The great Tressillion family is ruined. As Bea is forced to leave Tressillion House, self-made businesswoman Sybil moves in. In a world where the old rules are starting to break down, this one choice will change both their lives forever…
Sybil buys the abandoned great house even though she is tempted to tear it down. The village sees only a rich American hotel-owner. Nobody recognises the young girl who left years ago with nothing but a desperate need for revenge. Buying the house is her triumph — but now what? As the house casts its spell over her, as she starts to make friends in the village despite herself, will she be able to build a new life here, or will her old ghosts and hatred always rule her heart?
Bea finds herself in London, responsible for her mother and sister’s security. Her only hope is to marry Jonathon, the new heir. He seems kind, but is he hiding something? Desperate for options, she stumbles into the White Camellia tearoom, a gathering place for the growing suffrage movement. For Bea it’s life-changing, introducing her to new friends, new ideas, maybe love, maybe even a chance to work and support herself. But it’s dangerous, risking arrest or worse. Can she follow her dreams without bringing yet more scandal on her family?
When those very dangers send the White Camellia friends back to Cornwall, Bea and Sybil must finally confront each other. Will long buried family secrets on both sides now destroy them both?
Juliet Greenwood is published by Honno Press. Her books are set in Cornwall, London and Wales in Victorian and Edwardian times, and follow the lives of strong, independently-minded women struggling to find freedom and self-fulfillment. Her novels have reached #4 and #5 in the UK Amazon Kindle store, while ‘Eden’s Garden’ was a finalist for ‘The People’s Book Prize’ and ‘We That are Left’ was completed with a Literature Wales Writers’ Bursary.
Juliet’s great grandmother worked as a nail maker in Lye, near Birmingham, at the heart of the Industrial Revolution, hammering nails while rocking the cradle with her foot. Juliet’s grandmother worked her way up to become a cook in a big country house. Their stories have left Juliet with a passion for history, and in particular for the experiences of women, so often overlooked or forgotten. Juliet lives in a traditional cottage in Snowdonia, in the UK, and loves gardening and walking.