Book Review: Florence Grace by Tracy Rees (published by Quercus)
I had the great pleasure of meeting the author Tracy Rees at an inspiring and informative Marie Claire and Bookends event in London. We were split into smaller discussion groups and Tracy headed up mine. She was encouraging and gave some insightful advice. I was lucky enough to receive a copy of her second novel Florence Grace as part of my ticket to that event (along with novels from the other authors there which I’ll read soon!).
Florence Grace is a historical fiction, a romance set in Victorian times. Cornish orphan Florrie Buckley’s fortunes change when she discovers she is related to a wealthy London family, the Graces. She moves from the wild and mysterious moors of Cornwall to the stuffy and restrictive world at the Grace family house Helicon, near Belgrave Square. Learning a new way of life and how to live with her new relatives, including the irascible family patriarch Hawker Grace, Florence Grace falls for the troubled Turlington. A forbidden and potentially destructive relationship due to Turlington’s dark past and flighty nature.
I loved this book and was hooked from the start. Florrie is a strong-willed, determined girl who grows into an equally strong and honest woman. I loved her ability to sense people’s true selves the first time she met them, her brief insights into the future, the comfort she finds in the harsh, mist-swirling moors and the affinity she feels to the spirits found there, which are so frightening to many. The book is written in first person so as a reader you get the chance to really delve deep into the heroine’s head and follow along on her journey.
The descriptions of Helicon, of London and Cornwall, of the way of life and even of the clothes, were compelling and vivid. The language was charming, full of wisdom and I found myself chuckling in a few places. There are a number of characters, but all are well drawn so I didn’t find myself forgetting who was who or having to remind myself when a name was mentioned after a long time absent.
I had two niggles. Firstly, when Turlington returned from an absence and slotted back into life which seemed to be described in a few paragraphs very neatly. I would’ve like to have seen more of that in real time and a little less of Florence’s deliberations as to her feelings for him, which dragged a little at one point. Secondly, I would have liked to have seen more of Florence and Hawker’s relationship building up to become what it was at the end, which seemed to come out of nowhere for me.
Otherwise, I thoroughly enjoyed the unexpected twists and loved the ending. Florence stayed true to herself, a self that I felt I knew deeply by that point, and that was immensely satisfying.
My rating: 4/5
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**My debut novel, an epic fantasy called MELOKAI, is out now! Available from Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play Books, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords. Read more about my books here.**
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