The Innkeeper’s Daughter
Val Wood is a Yorkshire woman who now lives in Beverley and certainly knows the region and history of which she writes. The Innkeeper’s Daughter is her 18th novel, and the central character is Bella, who lives in an ancient inn in Holderness. Only thirteen years old when the story opens, and with plans to become a teacher, she is forced by circumstances to forget her dreams. Someone must care for her newborn brother and run the family hostelry. Her older brothers (fifteen and thirteen) don’t offer much help but accept unquestioningly that she must look after their needs. It surprised me, even though I’ve done my history studies, to read how helpless Bella felt in such a situation.
The writing is clear and easy as the story moves at a steady, gentle pace through mishaps and hard times. Characters are well drawn, and the author demonstrates how various levels of society cope with the hardships of life a hundred and fifty years ago. If there is a moral in this tale, it seems to be that hard work and selflessness pays off in the end. I am glad to report that the conclusion of the story, for almost every character, is a happy one, and there will be many devotees of sagas and family life who will find this a great read.