The Foundling School for Girls
Set in the mid-1800s in the hills above Newcastle, this novel depicts two very different characters. Ruth Dixon, deserted by her mother and made pregnant by her father, leaves home after being attacked by him again. Jay Gilbraith, an orphan, has grown up on the streets learning to fend for himself. He begins to buy old houses and repair them until the day comes when he feels he must do something more and decides to build a new village up in the hills. Nearby his chosen site is a convent providing food and shelter for orphans. Ruth and Jay meet up, and he takes her to the convent where she is taken in by Sister Madeline.
This is a good story with many twists and turns before the reader reaches the last page and has learned the outcome. None of the characters really existed, and apart from some social history of the period, there is not a lot to identify it as an historical novel, but there is drama and some romance. Characterisation is good, the setting is well-drawn, and the pages keep turning. I enjoyed this book, and it would happily pass the time on a long flight or train journey.