Stealing Roses

Written by Heather Cooper
Review by Marilyn Sherlock

Set on the Isle of Wight in 1862, this book is set within the scene of the opening of the new railway line from Cowes to Newport. Its characters are middle- to upper-class residents in the main, and the social mores of the time are aptly described. Eveline feels trapped by the imposition of her family, especially her mother, who thinks the only career for her is marriage and children. Her great love is photography, and her ambition is to become a photographer. To this end she enlists the help of a local man, Theodore Fry, a Professor of Photography. The railway has come to the Isle of Wight, and its construction has caused dissent among those living nearby and upon whose land it was being built. Some approved; others didn’t want to see the local countryside spoiled despite the promise of a shorter journey to the town of Newport. What was wrong with the standard carriages and horses?

How all their lives intermingle, the customs of the times – bathing huts, for example – and their loves and hates are all well told, and the characters walk off the pages. This is not an historical novel in the sense that it portrays some great international event or the life of a prominent person, but the customs of the day in Victorian England are well described, and the pages turn themselves. I thoroughly enjoyed it and will look for more from this author.