Rich Girl, Poor Girl
This saga is set in 1860 and follows the lives of two young women who both experience the same tragedy on the same day – the death of their mothers. However, their circumstances could not be more different. Polly exists in poverty, and it takes two wages to pay their rent, hers and her mothers. Left on her own she has not only lost her mother, Ida, but her home. A friend of Ida, the mysterious Sonny Blake, suggests a way for her to find a life away from the streets. Rosalie is used to an affluent lifestyle with her mother on the other side of the same town.
Polly is restricted by ignorance and poverty, but has the freedom to express herself openly; Rosalie has been educated, but sheltered from the world by her mother and is bound by the expectations society and her position places upon her. When Polly takes a position as a scullery maid in Rosalie’s family home the two share a new and different path, yet they would never normally have met. They go to live in Rosalie’s uncle’s house on the North Yorkshire Moors.
This novel is packed with period detail, from society’s expectations to the harsh reality of life for the poor. Two young women, discover the world anew as they are exposed to the darkness that jealousy and lust bring, but also the joy of compassion and love. Once again, Valerie Wood has graphically portrayed the harsh contrasts of regional life within this period, in a skilfully woven novel.