by Sandra-Jane Goddard
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
When 17-year-old Mary Springer marries George Strong she doesn’t know what to expect, especially on her wedding night. “Just do what he tells you” is the sum of the advice she receives from her mother. Her parent leave after the wedding, not staying for the celebration after. The message couldn’t be clearer—Mary is on her own.
As her marriage to this strange man progresses, Mary learns to live in this loveless marriage, she struggle to cope with an endless stream of farm and house work, try to do it all herself as her husband become more and more involved with the clandestine activities of disenchanted farm workers who are being put out of work in the world of the 1820s. Even though George is not threatened by the changes in farming, he unites with other farm workers trying to get justice, until his activities bring him to the brink of disaster.
Mary’s faith in her husband is shaken be his indifference to her needs, and she is drawn to another man, Francis Troke, who seems able to meet her physical needs in a way her husband cannot. Eventually she is forced into a choice between the two men.
I like the book for the description of farm life in Hampshire in the 1820, although I expect the book could have been set on a farm anywhere in the same time period. I like the few words of dialect dropped in to remind us of where and when we are.
I even liked poor old George, torn as he was between his duty to Mary and his attraction to his vivacious and attractive sister-in-law, Annie.
The personal stories make an elegant framing device for the turbulance of the times. Where is the justice between farm owners who want to make as much as possible while the farm workers fear losing their jobs and their ability to make a living? This book doesn’t show the answer but attempts to show both sides with justice.