Hold on to Hope

Written by Jean Fullerton
Review by Janet Williamson

This tightly crafted romantic mystery set in the East End of London convincingly conveys the concerns, conditions, social conventions and clothing of the poor in the years following the Crimean War.

Captain Jonathan Quinn lost an eye serving in the war and leaves military service behind, much to his father’s shame and disgust. He takes charge of St Katherine’s School and instigates transformational changes in the standards and lessons which impress many, particularly Mrs Puttock and her daughter Mabel.

Kate Ellis rears her two children, Ella and Joe, alone but under the watchful eye of her Irish family. Her wastrel husband abandoned them and then served a prison sentence. In his absence, Kate has opened a thriving chop shop, Kate’s Kitchen, on St. George’s Highway.

Captain Quinn arrives as a customer, and both are instantly attracted to each other, but must maintain their distance for the sake of their reputations, and because her children attend his school. Kate becomes a victim of a crime that threatens to destroy what happiness she has, but Captain Quinn becomes her ally in the ensuing struggle.

This story is wholly absorbing and gripping.