When dairymaid Louise Fletcher is whisked away from her life on Handley’s farm to become a lady’s maid to Handley’s niece, Rebecca, in the great port city of Harwich, she embarks on an adventure beyond her imagining. Leaving behind her mother and sister, she begins a quest to find out the fates of her father and brother, Luke, lost at sea in mysterious circumstances. Lou finds love and danger and new horizons but most of all, what she finds is herself.
A coming-of-age novel set in the mid-18thcentury, She Rises is an assured and skilful debut in which Worsley brings many worlds to life, from the elegiac pastoral of the dairy to the full-blooded, rollicking life of Harwich, to the brutality of shipboard life for press-ganged men. The novel’s voice is original and lyrical, a confident and accomplished blend of contemporary and anachronistic words and phrases whose rhythm reminds the reader that we are never far from the sea here, both physically and metaphorically. Meticulous research combines with writing of great sensuality to conjure Worsley’s imagined world with visceral authenticity. The novel should definitely carry a health warning for readers prone to seasickness!
Although this is a long book, the storytelling is tightly controlled and the final twist ingenious. Thoroughly recommended.