Hope Against Hope
1837 sees the start of a powerful story about two young sisters, stoical and industrious Carrie, and carefree and vivacious May. They are living in a Leeds pub when their world is suddenly overturned. The pub is sold from under them to make way for the coming of the railway. The sisters set off for Harrogate looking for work where an accident occurs and they meet Alex Sinclair, a Scottish railway pioneer, who offers them help. On their own in Harrogate they come up against fraudsters and predators and are driven apart. Each must follow her own destiny. Both are faced with trials and triumphs as they face their journeys,. May’s from a high-class brothel to the slums of Paris, and Carrie’s from a filthy boarding-house to a hotel in Harrogate.
The novel is packed with misunderstandings, betrayals and resentments, and over a ten-year period the sisters each cross the paths of three men, Alex Sinclair, Charles Hammond, a tormented physician, and womaniser and entrepreneur Byron Taylor. The reader is pulled into the lives of the well-drawn characters, with plenty of heart stopping moments. It is a tense, gripping page-turner.
The reader is readily transported into the Victorian era by the author’s vivid descriptions. The cities come alive complete with the sounds, smells and different cultures.
There is something for every reader: happiness, sadness, warmth and a bit of humour, sisters, hotels, revolutions, railways, love and loss. It is beautifully written, very readable, powerful, and gritty. A wonderful debut novel that keeps the reader enthralled and guessing. It is very difficult to put down until the last page is turned, and the story will stay with the reader long afterwards.