The Fields of Fortune

Written by Jessica Stirling

The Fields of Fortune is the latest work of the prolific Jessica Stirling. The book’s theme is not uncommon, but Ms. Stirling is a masterful storyteller, and her portrayal of the pursuit of young women of fortune by men of ambition is well done. She gives us a good glimpse into society in 18th-century Edinburgh, both urban and rural. On the verge of the modern age, it is a world where young woman demand to determine their own future and yet are hobbled by the old laws of inheritance.

Our heroine, Nicola Templeton, is a likeable young woman who has risked her father’s displeasure by refusing to marry a man so old, he all but promises to leave her a widow soon. Her sister Charlotte is also estranged from their father after marrying a man without her father’s approval. Although each possesses a different temperament, both sisters are steadfast in charting their own destinies until they fall under the influence of the Peters brothers. Grant Peters is a man of considerable ambition who has cleverly married the daughter of Lord Craigiehall. Once Charlotte gives birth to a male heir, he will control Lord Craigiehall’s estates and secure his place in Edinburgh society. Gillon Grant is no less desirous of finding a suitable heiress, but his poverty and reputation are serious impediments. The last Peters brother is Roderick, who has remained on the family’s farm. Although he is a less gallant and ambitious figure, Nicola falls in love with Roderick, but hints of a family secret doom the romance.

The story becomes more complicated when Lord Craigiehall, who has remained a widower and fears his new son-in-law’s ambitions, embarks on a search for a young bride.

The corkscrew plot is guaranteed to surprise and satisfy.