Our Fair Lily by Rosie Goodwin: A gripping emotional rollercoaster ride – book review –
A former social worker and foster mother, four-million-copy bestselling author Goodwin has penned over forty beautiful, heartwarming sagas, exploring life and love in days gone by. She was also awarded the rights to follow three of the late, great Tyneside writer Catherine Cookson’s trilogies with her own sequels.
And now she’s back to win our hearts again with a gritty and drama-filled tale which stars a young parlour maid whose life changes overnight when she is called on to go far beyond the duties of a household servant.
In Warwickshire in 1875, Lily Moon, the local miner’s daughter, spends her days as a parlour maid for Lord and Lady Bellingham at Oakley Manor on the outskirts of Nuneaton. She has always been happy with her lot in life and never expected more.
But that changes when she temporarily becomes lady’s maid to the Bellinghams’ daughter, Lady Arabella, who is pregnant with the illegitimate child of her army captain lover and about to be unhappily married off to Lord Lumley, a man twice her age.
When Arabella suddenly disappears and Lily is left holding the two-day-old baby, the Bellinghams deny any link to the child and tell Lily to leave her on the steps of the workhouse. But Lily Moon is made of strong stuff and between her and her sick mother Sara, they know they must give a home to sweet baby Anastasia (Annie) and bring her up despite their own limited means.
It is only Arabella’s brother Louis, the handsome son and heir of the estate, who shows any interest in the child and through his kindness, a friendship forms between him and Lily... or perhaps more than a friendship if the village gossips are to be believed.
Lily knows she is no match for Louis... a humble pit girl could never steal the heart of the lord of the manor. They must both deny their feelings and exist as they are... from two very different worlds.
But when Lily is called to Paris to try to bring Arabella home to her family, a new opportunity emerges which could change her life forever. Could she dare to believe that she could be more than just a parlour maid?
It’s no surprise that Goodwin is one of the most borrowed authors from UK libraries and here she packs in all those human events and emotions – births and deaths, loves and losses, good people and bad people – that have made her novels so beloved by readers over the decades.
Lily’s journey from humble miner’s daughter to the chance of a new life far from home proves to be a gripping emotional rollercoaster ride with plot twists aplenty and a story full of intrigue and heartache but also friendship, resilience and love.
Full of Goodwin’s wisdom and warmth, Our Fair Lily is a romantic gem and the first book to blossom in what promises to be a colourful new series.
(Zaffre, hardback, £14.99)