A Daughter’s Love

Written by Catherine King
Review by Lynn Guest

Nell Goodman earns just enough from her menial job in a brewery to support herself and her mother, Mabel, until Mabel’s wild accusations against Wilmot, the brewery owner, cost Nell her job. However, when Wilmot takes on Nell as a servant at Wilmot Grange, he allows Nell and her increasingly eccentric mother to live in. Although only a lowly scullery maid, Nell renews an old friendship with young Devlin Wilmot but also attracts the attention of his lecherous friend. The atmosphere at the Grange is tense; Nell senses secrets that may stem from her mother’s accusations of murder and theft. When Mabel is threatened with the workhouse, Nell must take action. Readers will wonder if Nell will discover the truth and triumph over the many obstacles thrown.

The first chapters concern young Mabel’s connection with the brewery, so readers know what may seem to be delusions are valid. By the end, the novel becomes a real page-turner. The life of a lower servant in a 1910 country house is vividly pictured: hard graft fourteen hours a day and the brutal hierarchy of the servants’ hall make Downton Abbey seem cosy. A resourceful heroine, Nell’s struggle with Mabel’s dementia gives a routine romantic novel an unusual strand, written with imagination and sympathy. A good read.