Kicking over the Traces

Written by Elizabeth Jackson
Review by Edward James

We start with a love triangle. Beautiful gypsy girl Florence has two suitors: the flamboyant and rather raffish lord of the manor, Garrett, and quiet, dependable gypsy traveller, Ambrose. No prizes for guessing who wins her hand. So far so Victorian, even though the story is set in the 1920s. But then we have several sub-plots, notably Garrett’s discarded mistress and his illegitimate child, creating a second love triangle with Garrett at the apex.

Despite the title it is traditional values which triumph, and nobody kicks over the traces. The ending is unexpected and in my mind a bit too convenient. Unlike most romantic novels there is no certainty that the surviving characters will live happily ever after. The setting is the North Yorkshire moors, whose wild, dramatic scenery befits a tale of high passion. An interesting refashioning of a traditional theme.