Dappled Light by Jessica Markwell is a well-written and complex novel, comprising four separate narratives that begin in Scotland and Africa in 1860, and which later merge in some unexpected ways. With remarkable ease the author reels her audience in: the characters and stories are all instantly appealing and intriguing; the settings are authentic and fascinating.
Prison life, Victorian morals, racial attitudes and the topic of slavery are handled with delicacy and insight. The book filled a few gaps in my knowledge about Victorian life and the general conditions in the colonies at that time.
Despite the separate narratives, the book is easy to follow and hard to put down. The character development was a particular strong point. I must admit that the successful blending of facts with fiction in this particular case was difficult for me to assess as, prior to reading the book, I was not familiar with the real-life individuals concerned. Reading it as a purely fictional account within a well-portrayed historical setting however, worked very well for me.