Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #HistoricalFiction FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE by @AilishSinclair

Today’s team review is from Liz. She blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading Fireflies And Chocolate by Ailish Sinclair


The new novel written by Ailish Sinclair, Fireflies and Chocolate is set in the 1740s in Scotland and colonial Pennsylvania. Young Elizabeth Manteith tells her own story of boredom in a lonely castle replaced by a terrifying adventure on the high seas, leading to forced servitude in America. A spirited teenager, she survives the deprivation and threats on board ship due to her own determination to survive and the friendship of a young boy, Peter Williamson, who had also been abducted on the streets of Aberdeen.

The plot is based on the true story of 600 children and young people to whom this actually happened. If they managed to stay alive through the perilous journey, they then had to face being sold in a market without knowing where they would end up. Parted from Peter, Elizabeth is taken by an arrogant old woman to be a housekeeper for an invalid on a tobacco plantation. Not meeting her master for some time, there is a hint of, “the beauty and the beast”.

Finding some of the local community kind and helpful, Elizabeth sends letters to Scotland in hope of rescue, but her father is engaged in fighting with Bonnie Prince Charlie and her mother lies in bed under the influence of laudanum. Soon Elizabeth is actively involved with her new friends and finds some happiness, but she longs to find Peter and return to her home.  Is this to be her future or will she spend her life in lonely drudgery?

This is a wonderful story of fortitude and kindness against a background of prejudice and misadventure. Ailish Sinclair writes vividly of carefully cooked food which sounds delicious and amazing scenery in the countryside. She entices you to engage with the heroine and believe in her values, with just a hint of magic.

Book description

Elizabeth craves adventure… excitement… love…

For now though, she has to settle for a trip from her family’s castle, to the port in Aberdeen, where her father has promised she’ll be permitted to buy a horse… all of her own.

Little does she suspect this simple journey will change her life, forever. And as she dreams of riding her new mount through the forests and glens of the Manteith estate, she can have no idea that she might never see them again.

For what lies ahead is danger, unimagined… and the fearful realities of kidnap and slavery.

But even when everything seems lost, most especially the chance of ever getting home again, Elizabeth finds friendship, comfort… and that much prized love, just where she least expected it.

Set in the mid eighteenth century, Fireflies and Chocolate is a story of strength, courage and tolerance, in a time filled with far too many prejudices.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS


Rosie’s #Bookreview Of #HistoricalFiction THE DICTIONARY OF LOST WORDS by Pip Williams @AffirmPress #TuesdayBookBlog

The Dictionary of Lost WordsThe Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams

4.5 stars

The Dictionary Of Lost Words is historical fiction based around the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary. Beginning in the late 1800s, this is the author’s imagined story from a woman’s point of view.

Esme is raised by her father, a gifted lexicographer. While he works each day on words for the new dictionary, young Esme often sits under the table at the scriptorium. It’s just a garden shed in Oxford, but to Esme and the wordsmiths it is a place of learned reverence.

Each word begins on a slip of paper with its definition. Most words had several definitions, which needed to be verified, then edited, before a final decision made about inclusion or exclusion from the new dictionary.

‘Words are like stories. They change as they are passed from mouth to mouth; their meanings stretch or truncate to fit what needs to be said.’

Author Pip Williams has considered the methods of censorship around the words which made it to the final publication and those which did not, as well as considering how new words enter our vocabulary during our lives. Set against the background of the suffragette movement and World War One, Esme’s fascination with words drove the story forward. As she grew up she collected words that were used in everyday life, particularly those used by or about women, along with regional and slang words. Many of these words never made it into the dictionary, so Esme made her own collection of them so that they weren’t forgotten.

I liked this story, particularly the detailed days in the scriptorium. The slips of paper for each word conjured lovely pictures in my mind of beautiful old papers tied with string and slotted into the pigeon holes which kept them safe. I can only imagine the disaster if there had been a fire. I recommend this to anyone who has an interest in words and their origin or an interest in the creation of The Oxford English Dictionary.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

In 1901, the word ‘Bondmaid’ was discovered missing from the Oxford English Dictionary. This is the story of the girl who stole it.

Esme is born into a world of words. Motherless and irrepressibly curious, she spends her childhood in the ‘Scriptorium’, a garden shed in Oxford where her father and a team of dedicated lexicographers are collecting words for the very first Oxford English Dictionary. Esme’s place is beneath the sorting table, unseen and unheard. One day a slip of paper containing the word ‘bondmaid’ flutters to the floor. Esme rescues the slip and stashes it in an old wooden case that belongs to her friend, Lizzie, a young servant in the big house. Esme begins to collect other words from the Scriptorium that are misplaced, discarded or have been neglected by the dictionary men. They help her make sense of the world.

Over time, Esme realises that some words are considered more important than others, and that words and meanings relating to women’s experiences often go unrecorded. While she dedicates her life to the Oxford English Dictionary, secretly, she begins to collect words for another dictionary: The Dictionary of Lost Words.

Set when the women’s suffrage movement was at its height and the Great War loomed, The Dictionary of Lost Words reveals a lost narrative, hidden between the lines of a history written by men. It’s a delightful, lyrical and deeply thought-provoking celebration of words, and the power of language to shape the world and our experience of it.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS