A Father for Daisy

Written by Karen Abbott
Review by Geoffrey Harfield

A wonderful romp of a read, this historical romance is set in late 1880s Lancashire. A vicar’s daughter saves baby Daisy from her dead mother, seeking the errant father. Deardon is not the father, but a nice chap who takes them in. The girl becomes governess to his nieces before the villain appears with both his eyes and hands on her.

This is an excellently constructed Victorian melodrama set against the Horwich, Bolton, Rivington Pike area, where the hero is a railway designer and draughtsman working at home. An easy page-turning read, it gives a good record of 19th-century middle-class life with its jealousies, lusts and dedication. The character introspection forwards the story as much as the dialogue itself. Not only is the dialogue Victorian, but so is the author’s narration and characters’ introspection. I find this works very well.

With theatre visits and dinner parties we gain a good feel for the period, its morality and constraints. A mother exclaims, ‘It is a well-known fact that working class children have no capacity for learning and young girls of the better classes of society such as our own are far too delicate… female brains are not capable of much learning.’

Towards the end the villain again appears and after a violent scene gets his come-uppance, the jealous woman is put in her place and a surprising development leads to a very satisfactory ending.