Though she has no training as a teacher, she must prove herself successful before her grandfather will release her substantial inheritance to her and allow her to be reunited with her younger sister, the last remaining member of her family after a fever claimed the lives of her parents and brothers.
Evangeline's sudden change in circumstances is complicated when her aunt—a woman who values class distinctions more than her family relationships—forbids her from acknowledging any connection to her or to her grandfather, Mr. Farr—the man who owns nearly the entire town. For the first time in her life, Evangeline is truly alone.
Heartbroken, she turns to the one person in town who has shown her kindness—an Irish brick mason, Dermot, and his son, Ronan. Despite the difference in their classes and backgrounds, Evangeline and Dermot become friends, due in part to her ability to connect with Ronan, whose behavior requires special attention. The boy is uncomfortable around strangers and rarely even speaks to the other children in town. He often fixates on details other people ignore, and he adheres to specific, self-made rules that give his life order and structure; for example, Dermot's coat must be hung on a specific peg next to the door.
Evangeline attempts to prove herself a worthy teacher and earn the respect of her hard-to-understand students. Determined to find a way to introduce them to "proper English" while still honoring their unique language and culture, she enlists the help of a local family to write down familiar stories in the Yorkshire vernacular. Because of her efforts, the students and their families warm to Evangeline and she continues to look for ways to give the children a chance to become more than factory workers in the local cotton mill.
When the town learns of her upper-class status, Evangeline must work twice as hard to win back their trust--especially Dermot's. In the end, Evangeline and Dermot discover that, even though they come from different social spheres, together they can overcome social prejudices, make a positive difference in the lives of even the humblest people, and enjoy the strength that comes when two hearts find each other.
It's always a happy day when a new book by Sarah Eden comes out. I am such a fan of her writing and her stories. She has a gift for weaving me right into her stories where I feel such a part of whatever emotion or activity that is going on and she does it so gently. I think that's one word I would always use to describe Sarah Eden's books. Gentle.
This story started off sad and a bit slow for me. It took me a bit to fall into the characters and feel like I was a part of them but it did happen about halfway through. By the end I was in love with Evangeline, Dermot and Ronan. I loved the glimpse into the history of the Yorkshire area, the struggles of the people and the very distinct Yorkshire accent. Evangeline, as a school teacher, kept saying that she didn't want to take their words away from them. I loved that too.
There was so much to love about this book. It was full and rich, gentle and endearing. Just what I would expect from Sarah Eden.
- I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.