Brown’s story follows Emma Carrington, who as a baby was left on the doorstep of a man known as Squire Carrington. The Squire takes the baby in to care for it as his own, and upon the death of his wife he gives the child up to the Countess of Holmeshire as a servant. Distraught over the death of her own husband, the Countess sends Emma to London to learn the ways of society from her old governess. Once properly instructed and groomed, Emma returns to the home of the Countess to act as her companion. She is met with a dilemma, however. Ever since her time as a child at the Holmeshire estate, she has been watching the young Earl of Holmeshire from a distance, admiring him but unable to act due to her status. Now, as she returns as a different woman in both status and manners, can she catch the Earl’s eye? What will he make of her transition? There is also the mystery of the gold ring that was left with her when she was a baby. What does it mean? Who did it belong to, and what can it unlock from her past?
Debra Brown has really knocked the ball out of the park with The Companion of Lady Holmeshire. For a debut novel I was absolutely floored about how historically detailed the novel was. The end of the novel was one huge surprise, that felt never-ending. Just when you thought you found out all the secrets of Emma’s past, BAM! you’re hit with more. It’s these twists and turns of the plot that keep the story moving at an excellent pace and create a story with tons of character development. The story itself is told from several character’s perspectives and it amazed me that Brown was able to weave the stories together and pace them as beautifully as she did. Each character as well was a joy to follow, and with Brown’s characterizations you were either cheering or jeering them.
One aspect of the novel that really intrigued me, was the social narrative on the problems that England was facing with the gap between the poor and the rich. The Earl of Holmeshire, Wills, brings the plight of the poor into the dinners and parties of the rich, forcing the wealthy to take a stand and do something about it. It’s an issue that hits close to home in the economic situation of the world today and makes me think and want to do more for the underprivileged. I thank Brown for making it a poignant part of the story, and for rewarding the characters that stood with Wills.
All in all, Brown has crafted an amazing foray into the world of the Victorian era. Not content with writing a story that relies on character development to drive the plot, she weaves the social and economic problems of the era into the fabric of the story. It adds a depth and complexion to the story that makes it even better. It was a pleasure to read and I wholeheartedly look forward to Brown’s followup works!
5 out 5 Stars
This is my twenty-eighth completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge