Monday, 25 March 2013

Guest Review: Elizabeth Gill - Miss Appleby's Academy

Reviewed by Ceri Kehoe

Emma Appleby’s arrival in the County Durham village of Tow Law is sudden and mysterious, provoking deep suspicion in the locals. And because she has a child with her, seemingly out of marriage, they want nothing to do with her – except for pub landlord Mick Castle. 

When Emma opens an academy and sets herself up in competition with the local school, she provokes a savage response from the community. But she will not be deterred – even when her past catches up with her and Mick is forced to choose between family and love.

Emma Appleby is on a walk with her father on a winters afternoon in New England, USA when they chance upon an upturned coach. They discover all the occupants have died except for a tiny baby boy. They name the boy George and that's how he comes to live with them.

While George is still a young boy, Emma's father dies, her brother Laurence, his wife Verity and their two young sons move into the Appleby family home. Emma and George's life is thrown into turmoil so Laurence offers Emma a little run down cottage on the edge of town to live in and George to go to boarding school. She dislikes the cottage and doesn't want George to go away to school. After that, the Judge, an old friend of her fathers offers Emma marriage, his wife died and left him with six children. Emma doesn't want that either so she decides to go back to her roots, she's originally from Tow Law, County Durham, England.

First she has to get the money for the fare so she steals her sister in law, Verity's pearls and sells them on buying boat tickets. They arrive in England in 1906. She has nowhere to go and ends up spending the night in Mick Castles pub, hidden upstairs. Mick is married to Isabel and they have a daughter Connie, who is running wild!

What will the residents of Tow Law think when Emma, an unmarried woman with a child turns up to live there? Is she ready for there reaction to her? What kind of family does she have left in Tow Law?

On beginning this book I really warmed to Emma but as the story went on I could see how much her character was changing for the worse but the change didn't happen until she moved to England. I can't say too much without spoiling the plot but she demended things that she had no business demanding! There was also a relationship between the characters which I questioned but again I can't reveal what for fear of spoiling the story.

Over all though this was a book that was well written, it flowed along nicely. A good mix of different characters to keep the story alive and nice descriptive passages which always make me feel like I could be at the scene the story is set.

Lastly I want to mention the cover, I adore the cover which depicts children stood in front of a building. It always gives me a sense of how things really were in those days, the dress for both boys and girls really can give you an idea of wealth and the differences between being wealthy or not in those days.

I recommend this book and give it 3/5 stars.  I'd like to thank Quercus for sending us a copy of Miss Appleby's Academy to review.

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