Florence Grace

Quercus. Jul. 2018. 560p. ISBN 9781784296179. $13.99. F
This latest work by Rees (Amy Snow) could be seen as following the footsteps of Jane Eyre, but the story takes several turns and steps away from Charlotte Brontë's classic. Vivacious orphan Florrie Buckley enjoys a carefree but unremarkable life on the Cornish moors in the company of her aging grandmother, childhood friends, and a neighborhood healer who has "seeing" abilities, as does Florrie. Then her grandmother confesses that Florrie's true heritage is one of privilege and wealth. Her mother had belonged to the illustrious Grace family, and Florrie is forced to move to London and live with a family of strangers. Her tumultuous feelings for the Graces, and in particular for her troubled and secretive cousin Turlington, will place her at a crossroads, where she'll have to choose between freedom or love. Although the narrative sometimes stalls in heavy-handed descriptions and prolonged scenes, this truly engaging novel guarantees a surprise ending.
VERDICT Perfect for readers of the Brontë sisters, Thomas Hardy, and even Jane Austen, who enjoy a rags-to-riches Regency tale with a spark of romance and family secrets.
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