Today’s team review is from Sandra, she blogs here https://www.firthproof.co.uk/index.php/book-reviews
Sandra has been reading The Winter Companion by Mimi Matthews
The Winter Companion is the fourth and final book in the Parish Orphans of Devon series. This is Neville’s story. I had only read the previous book, A Convenient Fiction, but will now go back and read the first two to get a more rounded picture. You could read this as a standalone but would be missing so much backstory.
Justin, Tom, Alex and Neville are together for the first time since they left the orphanage; back at Greyfriar’s Abbey (Justin’s home) in Devon for a traditional Victorian Christmas. The other three all have their wives with them so Neville is feeling a bit isolated. He prefers to be in the stables with the horses and dogs anyway; a childhood accident left him with a speech problem, and he prefers the company of animals.
Clara has come along as the companion of Mrs Bainbridge, the aunt of Alex Archer’s wife Laura. She is accustomed to blending into the background, but bonds with Neville over their mutual love of animals. She has an elderly pug called Bertie with her, and seeks out Neville to look after him before she knows whether he is welcome in the house or not. Because of his problem with speaking, especially among strangers, Neville is often wrongly thought to be a bit simple. Clara can see that he is actually very intelligent, and they slowly open up to each other; he explains about his childhood accident. She tells him how she is supporting her brother through university, and hopes to work as his secretary when he graduates. There is a secret in her past that we only discover much later in the book. Her desire to be educated, and frustration with the restrictions placed on women in Victorian times, makes her an unusual heroine, and highlights how women were only supposed to want marriage and children to fulfil them. It would be another few years yet before women were allowed to go to university.
The Devon landscape is vividly described, and the stormy weather plays a large part in this story; at times the rain and wind seem overwhelming, and there is a lot of mud! There is not a lot of humour which is a shame as it would have lightened the sometimes gloomy atmosphere. The Christmas traditions of gathering greenery to decorate the house, making homemade decorations, cutting down the huge tree and all of them helping to decorate it add authenticity; the period detail has obviously been well researched. The inclusion of the extract from Tennyson’s Ulysses is very moving (the same lines quoted by Judi Dench as M in Skyfall).
Without giving anything away, I loved the ending; it brings the whole series to a satisfying conclusion. Neville and Clara have come a long way and, in trusting and opening up to each other, have overcome their fears and can move forward confidently into the future together.
Thanks to Mimi Matthews for a copy of The Winter Companion that I review on behalf of Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT #thewintercompanion #mimimatthews
A winter reunion for the orphans brings romance for Neville Cross in Book 4 of Mimi Matthews’ USA Today bestselling Parish Orphans of Devon series.
She Needed to be Seen…
As a lady’s companion, Clara Hartwright never receives much attention from anyone. And that’s precisely how she likes it. With a stormy past, and an unconventional plan for her future, it’s far safer to remain invisible. But when her new employer is invited to a month-long holiday at a remote coastal abbey, Clara discovers that she may not be as invisible as she’d hoped. At least, not as far as one gentleman is concerned.
He Wanted to be Heard…
Neville Cross has always been more comfortable with animals than people. An accident in his youth has left him with a brain injury that affects his speech. Forming the words to speak to his childhood friends is difficult enough. Finding the right things to say to a lovely young lady’s companion seems downright impossible. But Miss Hartwright is no ordinary companion. In fact, there may not be anything ordinary about her at all.
During a bleak Devon winter, two sensitive souls forge an unexpected friendship. But when Clara needs him most, will Neville find the courage to face his fears? Or is saying goodbye to her the most heroic thing he can do?