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Sunday, November 21, 2021

The Secrets of Elloughton Park by Stephen Taylor

This was a fascinating read. Set over two timelines a present day historian who gets more and more enchanted by a woman of two centuries ago and is enthralled by her. James Postlethwaite is fascinated by social history and is very excited to come across the journals of Lord and Lady Carlisle of the 18th century. What was hidden amongst the papers was the quite very well known writings of a cinder maid Ginny Farmer whose account of her life of so very humble beginnings abandoned in a foundlings hospital, then her appointment as a maid in the kitchen and her rise to the ranks of a lady's maid. This position sadly brought her to the attention of the drunken master of the house, she was raped and then fell pregnant and was kicked out. This was the norm. Ginny's meteroric rise from being penniless and destitute to become a prostitute was not a surprise. For a young woman, with no references, no training and no family or money there was no other choice but here too she landed on her feet and slowly developed an aura of being someone who came from a very good family but had fallen on hard times (or been kicked out by her family) and had to make her way in the world. Becoming the sole mistress of one Lord was something Virginia as she was now known, was not something she favoured but she took the step until that too was terminated by her protector. Going solo again Lady Virginia was befriended by unusual men - men who did not look on her just as a prostitue but as a friend and someone whom they mentored, and encouraged to learn more and more. This was what the journals depicted and this was what was so unusual. James relationship with his student protegee and his feelings towards her and his inability to express them was just a secondary story. The real story was Ginny alias Lady Virginia and what a fascinating story. Lots of history, and a lot of details of society and how it evolved at the time - very descriptive. Very detailed of Georgian times. Sent by Sapere Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

1 comment:

Dorothy Borders said...

Lady Virginia's story does indeed have a familiar feel to it in the beginning but obviously, she was able to rise above those unhappy beginnings. Thanks for an interesting review.