The White Camellia by Juliet Greenwood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The White Camellia is an historical fiction set in 1909 in two locations, Cornwall and London. The story builds in both settings until links form between them as the story unfolds.
The book opens in Cornwall, Sybil is a strong independent woman about to buy the Tressillion House. The house and the surrounding land bring up the past for Sybil and the reader is tantilised by hints of a big past secret.
In London, we meet Beatrice Tressillion, a young lady looking for work as a journalist. Feeling threatened in the street, she seeks refuge in a Ladies tearoom called The White Camellia. She is befriended by a young group and they take her along to a meeting of The Suffrage League of Women Artists & Journalists. Bea’s eyes are opened and she is inspired by the meeting. Facing a marriage of convenience to a cousin she dislikes just to save her family or stepping out and becoming financially independent herself, Bea becomes embroiled in the day to day fight for the rights to vote and the Suffragette movement.
Back in Cornwall Sybil makes plans for the house renovations and investigates an old mine on her property which comes with rumours of a lost gold seam, she employs Madoc Lewis to help her re-open the mine. But it is the White Camellia which draws people to Sybil and her past secrets to unravel.
I enjoyed the ladies tearoom and the ideas behind The White Camellia, but my favourite parts of the book were Cornwall and Sybil’s story, probably because of a personal interest in Cornwall, rather than the harsh dangerous battle which the women of the Suffragettes undertook.
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Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: 15th September 2016
Publisher: Honno, the Welsh Women’s Press
1909.Cornwall. Her family ruined, Bea is forced to leave Tressillion House, and self-made business woman Sybil moves in. Owning Tressillion is Sybil’s triumph — but now what? As the house casts its spell over her, as she starts to make friends in the village despite herself, will Sybil be able to build a new life here, or will hatred always rule her heart? Bea finds herself in London, responsible for her mother and sister’s security. Her only hope is to marry Jonathon, the new heir. Desperate for options, she stumbles into the White Camellia tearoom, a gathering place for the growing suffrage movement. For Bea it’s life-changing, can she pursue her ambition if it will heap further scandal on the family? Will she risk arrest or worse? When those very dangers send Bea and her White Camellia friends back to Cornwall, the two women must finally confront each other and Tresillion’s long buried secrets.
ABOUT JULIET GREENWOOD
Juliet Greenwood is the author of two previous historical novels for Honno Press, both of which reached #4 and #5 in the UK Amazon Kindle store. ‘Eden’s Garden’ was a finalist for ‘The People’s Book Prize’. ‘We That are Left’ was completed with a Literature Wales Writers’ Bursary, and was Welsh Book of the month for Waterstones Wales, The Welsh Books Council and the National Museum of Wales. It was also chosen by the ‘Country Wives’ website as one of their top ten ‘riveting reads’ of 2014, was one of the top ten reads of the year for the ‘Word by Word’ blog, and a Netmums top summer read for 2014.
Juliet’s grandmother worked as a cook in a big country house, leaving Juliet with a passion for history, and in particular for the experiences of women, which are often overlooked or forgotten. Juliet trained as a photographer when working in London, before returning to live in a traditional cottage in Snowdonia. She loves gardening and walking, and trying out old recipes her grandmother might have used, along with exploring the upstairs and downstairs of old country houses.
Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/844510.Juliet_Greenwood
1st Prize – paperback copies of all 3 of Juliet’s books
2nd Prize – an ecopy of The White Camellia
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