The White Dress
Strategic Book Publishing and Rights Co., November 2014
The author of this enthralling historical novel is English. The novel begins in 1886, but its style is slightly off and definitely modern. “Nellie listened to see who had arrived and recognized Master Edward’s cousin Abigail. Nellie listened intently to the conversation when she heard Master Edward’s voice.” Direct, straightforward, many many short declarative sentences.
The novel deals with highly emotional sometimes turbulent incidents for which the almost neutral tone seems to work quite well. The plot is fairly simple but laded with more than a few twists and surprises. A young prostitute grabs an opportunity and steals an infant girl from a briefly untended carriage on the street of Ulverston, Lancashire, England. The baby grows up, has many adventures and the details of her parentage are ultimately resolved. The novel is a coming-of-age love story that looks with a critical but loving eye at the conditions of the lower classes in early Twentieth Century England and at the relationships of the classes during that period.
One is instantly drawn to Nellie and many of the other characters amid a desire to see them all succeed, something not possible, of course. Nellie’s personality develops in foreseeable steps as she dodges calamities and strides resolutely into her future. It is the ways in which she deals with both adversity and success that makes it necessary for us to continue reading to the elusive end.