The Nothing Girl, (Frogmorton Farm 1), Jodi Taylor. Honourable Lies, Fran Connor
The Nothing Girl, (Frogmorton Farm 1), Jodi Taylor
Genre:, Romance, paranormal
Well, an innocuous title for what proved to be an incredible read for me.
I wasn’t sure about this book, but its free, so if I didn’t like it I didn’t need to read/review it. I’ve not read any of Jodi’s other stories, having taken a quick look I’m not sure they’re my kind of read but then this one surprised me so maybe someday..
There is a follow up but this book feels like it ends well enough for me and I’m not keen on sequels when I don’t need them to feel story is complete.
Poor Jenny, brought up by her aunt and uncle after her parents die she’s quiet, hidden away, “Jenny can’t cope with/Jenny needs to be protected/Jenny will be upset and unable to speak”…. Its as if her relatives want the best for her, as if they’re over protective and yet from the inside they don’t really make her welcome, and seem to be happiest when she’s tucked away in her room.
She’s 13 ( I think) when we first meet her and decided to end her life. No one will miss her she thinks, and she’s mulling over the tidiest way to do it, to leave the least mess when along comes Thomas.
Thomas is wonderful, and he feels so real, I adored him. I love all things equestrian anyway and Thomas just felt so very unique, and I had no problem believing in him. I loved when he referred to her as a foal, when he interpreted her snorts of laughter as swear works!
Only Jenny can see him, he’s always with her, speaks and advises her and really helps her to cope with life. She’s still quietly tucked away but with Thomas help has persuaded her aunt to let her have the whole of the attic where she and Thomas can make hot chocolate, watch TV and relax in their own private, happy space.
That’s enough for many years then Thomas seems to decide its time for her to see more people, get more of a life. She doesn’t need to work, has money from her parents and he seems to see that she’s just becoming totally introverted. She’s 29 now and still has to ask her aunt and uncle for permission for things, still believes them when they say she’s “special” and can’t be allowed freedoms others have, and allude that if she doesn’t live quietly with them then she could end up somewhere with far more restrictions…..
And into this quiet, sombre life falls Russell, totally opposite, outwardly chaotic, charms everyone, a golden boy, talented artist whose fallen when he lost his muse. Said muse just happens to be Jenny’s cousin Francesca, spoiled, rude, thinks life revolves around her and who had a fling with Russell where he painted her continuously, was at the top of the art tree, and she adored the adulation he gave her, along with his fame of course. Then the next victim comes along and she leaves him for someone who can further her ambitions. You can tell I don’t like her 😉 and I was so angry at Russell’s fixation, infatuation even when he’s trying to help Jenny. And himself, of course, but he has good in him and sees Jenny for who she is, not who her relatives want everyone to think she is.
Jenny and Russell marry, and her life changes so much. She grows fast away from all the restrictions. Of course her relatives aren’t happy and make many concerted attempts to bring her back, but Russell is determined, even when he’s being a total ass over Francesca. He’s truthful with Jenny, tells her how he feels but its an escape for her, the best chance of a life of her own and Thomas encourages her to take the risk.
Its a madcap book in many ways, chaotic at times and yet quietly poignant too, and we see Jenny growing slowly in confidence, finding she can live a life of her own, that there’s no reason she needed to be hidden away.
And I kept thinking why did they do it? Were they just ultra protective, was there some reason I’m missing, did they just want their daughter Francesca to shine away from Jenny’s light, maybe it was just easier to be a dutiful relative if they didn’t have to actually interact much with Jenny.
There are some surprises and twists in store for Russell and Jenny, and some serious drama towards the end..
I went into this thinking it might be a YA, twee kind of read, but soon found myself immersed in Russell and Jenny’s world, getting so cross that Russell couldn’t see through the b itch Francesca, mentally shouting at his actions, feeling for Jenny and encouraging her to carry on, make plans, and hoping they’d both soon see what was obvious to everyone else.
Stars:Five, a fabulous, escapist read and one I know I’ll return to.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher
Honourable Lies, Fran Connor
This novel is set in the 1860’s, so my comments about divorce are not strictly correct, what I had read was in the process of changing at the time this novel was set, and it wouldn’t have been as difficult as before to obtain a divorce, so please read my original comments with that in mind. Apologies for my incorrect facts, and I’d like to add the following info to correct things.
Under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1857 divorce was taken away from the Ecclesiastical Court and parliament jurisdiction. Under the Act it was possible for a man to divorce his wife for adultery, but a wife could not divorce her husband for adultery ‘only’. She had to have ‘aggravated’ cause to go with it such as serious assault or being abandoned. The civil court could then grant the divorce without recourse to parliament or the Church.
So, sometimes I just want to dip back into history, with a simple romance. Sadly though this was too sweet and simple for me. Victoria is a historical Pollyanna…. whatever happens to her she’s something good around every corner. Ditto for anyone that crosses her path.
She gets thrown out of the orphanage at 16, gets attacked while out and her little money stolen, but she’s well read and educated, and gets a job living in, with no references, no belongings, and probably looking pretty grubby, as companion/tutor to a 14 yr old. That quickly falls through but no worries, she just happens to meet and do Queen Victoria a favour….and the whole book feels like that, any mishap brings good things Every Time. She really is a charmed girl and everyone in her orbit benefits, everyone loves her. Its little things that were so unreal for me, she starts growing carrots, cabbages and potatoes with no knowledge of how, and within a couple of years has graduated to a huge flock of sheep, employing people to help her.
Then of course there’s Richard and his wife – who’s name I can’t recall. She loves another and so – hey, they get divorced. Now even I with my scant historical knowledge know it wasn’t that easy, so had a quick look on google “A couple could only be divorced by the passage of a private act through Parliament–remedy available only to the very wealthy. According to Feminism, Marriage and the Law in Victorian England, 1850-1895, about ten private acts for divorce were passed in Parliament each year.” It certainly wasn’t the easy option.
So, I know I’m reading fiction, I’m happy for authors to bend the facts and use them to their advantage but this was just too unreal for me. Life doesn’t work like that, I can accept one good thing happening, people do get lucky breaks, but for Victoria every cloud had a silver lining. There’s no way she’d have been taken on in her first job, no way she’d have met the queen, got that position, grown enough veg to buy sheep in such a short space of time…it was all too slick for me. I have to say here that from about 40 to 80 % I just skim read, bored with the story but wanting to see the end.
If you can suspend any semblance of reality and like a sweet and cute read you’ll love this, but sadly I want more real life, more angst, more blocks to happiness, though I need a HEA and was glad that came through.
Stars:Two, too far from reality for me 😦
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher