Elisabeth Hobbes dips her toes into the historical fiction side of the writing pool with Daughter of the Sea, the tale of a foundling and the woman who takes her in. This pretty, lyrical tale is honest and lovely, with some perfect prose imagery.
Effie Cropton has a sailor husband and an infant son named Jack and lives as a housewife. But something very extraordinary happens to Effie – she finds a baby girl wrapped in sealskin and in a basket awash in the sea near her home on the Yorkshire coast. She wades out, grabs the child, feeds her from her own breast, and takes her in. She learns soon after that her husband has died in a shipwreck.
Effie, Jack and the baby, who has not been named or baptized, get along well enough. A year passes. Then a Scottish stranger arrives at her doorstep, saying that the girl is his. He refers to himself as Lachlan, and notes that Effie has so bonded with the baby and she with her that tearing them apart would be an impossibility. Lachlan informs Effie that the girl’s name is Morna, and says he will pay for her care and upkeep by presenting her with a pearl each midwinter’s and midsummer’s night at the turn of the tide. Lachlan and Effie begin to grow closer. And that’s when Effie learns Lachlan and Morna’s secret.
Effie soon finds herself torn between the mysterious Lachlan and Walter Danby, a local man who tries to help her out and also loves her. Who will Effie choose?
There’s a scent of sea air surrounding the lovely romantic universe created by Hobbes for Daughter of the Sea. The book is tender and gentle, spanning a set of years and breathing life into old Celtic fables. It’s warm and smart, and gives us a heroine worth caring for.
Effie is strong, smart and brave, nervy and tender; Lachlan reveals his secret in unfolding pages. Their romance is gentle and restrained, yet passionate. Walter makes a convincing third to the relationship and Jack and Morna feel like realistic kids.
I loved the feeling of the small Yorkshire town where Effie lives, and the way Hobbes uses her research and local mythology are, naturally, superlative.
Daughter of the Sea is a pretty book, with a lot of wonderful little romantic moments that make it well worth reading.
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