The Fields of Fortune
The Fields of Fortune is the latest work of the prolific Jessica Stirling. The book’s theme is not uncommon, but Ms. Stirling is a masterful storyteller, and her portrayal of the pursuit of young women of fortune by men of ambition is well done. She gives us a good glimpse into society in 18th-century Edinburgh, both urban and rural. On the verge of the modern age, it is a world where young woman demand to determine their own future and yet are hobbled by the old laws of inheritance.
Our heroine, Nicola Templeton, is a likeable young woman who has risked her father’s displeasure by refusing to marry a man so old, he all but promises to leave her a widow soon. Her sister Charlotte is also estranged from their father after marrying a man without her father’s approval. Although each possesses a different temperament, both sisters are steadfast in charting their own destinies until they fall under the influence of the Peters brothers. Grant Peters is a man of considerable ambition who has cleverly married the daughter of Lord Craigiehall. Once Charlotte gives birth to a male heir, he will control Lord Craigiehall’s estates and secure his place in Edinburgh society. Gillon Grant is no less desirous of finding a suitable heiress, but his poverty and reputation are serious impediments. The last Peters brother is Roderick, who has remained on the family’s farm. Although he is a less gallant and ambitious figure, Nicola falls in love with Roderick, but hints of a family secret doom the romance.
The story becomes more complicated when Lord Craigiehall, who has remained a widower and fears his new son-in-law’s ambitions, embarks on a search for a young bride.
The corkscrew plot is guaranteed to surprise and satisfy.