I remember Mary as the Bennett sister who couldn’t sing, but twenty years on from the end of Austin’s Pride and Prejudice, Mary’s life continues. In her desperation for independence, she investigates the plight of the English poor only to find herself in danger.
I wasn’t expecting this to be an engaging tale, but I should have known better because this Australian author has never disappointed me—a book I couldn’t put down when I needed a light read.
When Theo, a Nigerian art historian, removes a painting of a horse from a discarded pile of junk a neighbour has dumped in her front yard, he is unaware of its connection to a Kentucky slave from the 1800s. He takes the painting covered in soot to a restorer where he meets a Smithsonian scientist, Jess who has been studying the bones of the horse she believes is the same one in the painting. Jarret is a slave in the 1850s with a knack with horses. He forms a close bond with a foal after its birth and grooms the horse to race on the insistence of his master, Dr. Warfield.
What happens to Theo and the painting he has restored? And why did the bones of a horse from more than a hundred years ago end up in storage in a neglected section of Washington’s Smithsonian Museum?
What makes this book an even better read is the author’s meticulous research into many of her real characters and the events that actually happened back in the 1800s.
Motherless Esme hides under a desk in the Scriptorium where her father works surrounded by words. He is one of the lexicographers working on words to include in the first Oxford English Dictionary. When careless lexicographers drop chits, Esme collects the words and their meanings written on pieces of paper and hides them in a trunk. As the years pass, she comes to realize that many words are excluded because the lexicographers believe words for the dictionary should have written examples. So begins Esme’s personal research, collecting excluded words—words of profanity, words commonly used only by women but not men—words she hears in the markets. But what will she do with her collection and how will her life change once she begins working in the Scriptorium? A fascinating tale inspired by the lexicographers who actually worked on producing the first English dictionary back in the late 1800s.
If you’re curious about why a child was abandoned on the dock in a foreign country, or want to know why the person a character trusts more than anyone commits a horrendous crime, then Kate Moreton’s the author for you.
The Secret Keeper, Forgotten Garden and House at Riverton were novels I couldn’t put down. Not only were they well written, but I was hooked right till the unpredictable ends of all three. I highly recommend these three much more than her latest book.