She Rises

Any of you who pop by regularly to say hi will be aware that I am a huge fan of historical fiction, not of the kind that is too trashy mind. Although there needs to be some skirt rustling and bodice-clad bosoms involved, I like my historical fiction gritty, stinking and realistic. After a succession of gooduns (Sarah Waters, Hilary Mantel, etc) She Rises; the captivating début novel by Kate Worsley landed on my doorstep at just the right time…

Bloomsbury : Hardback : 2013 : 421 pages : Kindly sent to me by the publishers
Bloomsbury : Hardback : 2013 : 421 pages : Kindly sent to me by the publishers

Sinking into a wonderful novel is the pastime of any true escapist and I can’t think of anything better than transporting myself to an entirely different place in an entirely different era. The year is 1740. Louise ‘Lou’ Fletcher lives a relatively serene and sheltered existence as a dairymaid on a farm in the Essex countryside; grafting alongside her weather-worn mother and young sister. Weary of the bustling harbour towns and raging seas that lured both her father and brother away from their family, Louise is content with her lot in life. That is, of course, until she is ‘talent spotted’ by the farm owner’s brother; a great sea-captain after a lady’s maid for his wayward daughter Rebecca. Thus starts a life in the thriving port town of Harwich, taking Lou far away from her corner of comfort and thrusting her into a life fraught with opportunities and emotions she could never have imagined in her wildest dreams…

Luke, on the other hand, is a young man in trouble. Press-ganged by the Royal Navy and en-route to fight a war that isn’t his, the Essex is a terrifying place to be. Billowing sails, rolling decks and cavernous, contaminated holds, this is about the survival of the fittest. With barely any time to pine after the sweetheart he left behind, Luke must transform himself into the filthiest of all tars and fast. His existence couldn’t be further from that of Worsley’s young dairymaid stumbling through life on shore.

The cover of this book may be utterly tantalising and oh so stylish, however, this is happily not a case of all good looks and no substance. She Rises has been a joy to read and is an accomplished first novel. Alternation between the romantic, Pirates of the Caribbean-style smugglers’ town and the tension of a prisoner’s life at sea keeps the story fresh and exciting and the drama unfolding. Viewing this rolling and swaying world from the point of view of two people who start our story as Mr/Miss Ordinary allows us to delight in their extraordinary tales all the more. This is a tale of great danger and sacrifice, intrigue and identity, full of humanity with a few key characters (e.g. Luke’s shipmate Nick) frozen in time in their full gory glory to incite great shock, awe and sympathy from the reader. Lou and Luke live in seemingly entirely separate worlds leading entirely separate lives and the moment when these two narratives, previously co-existing in harmony, collide, it is with a delicacy and skill from the author that allows for maximum shock from the reader…h02086a

There will no doubt, due to the style and subject matter of this exciting new novel, be countless comparisons made between Worsley and her mentor Sarah Waters. Indeed the similarities do seem uncanny, particularly having only just read one of Waters’ books myself recently. However, this a standalone adventure story that betrays great imagination, great heart and if this is what they call a début novel, then I am very excited to see what comes next…

She Rises is out on the 14th March 2013

10 thoughts on “She Rises

      1. Thanks cleemckenzie ! 🙂 I can’t wait to hear what you think of this one. It really has wetted my appetite …. I still haven’t read Jane Harris’ Gillespie and I and it’s beckoning to me even more strongly now..

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    1. Hi Victoria! It is brilliant and, well, might even be worth the money for the hardback since it’s so darn pretty. Or…perhaps it could make its sneeky way onto your birthday list this year?

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  1. Oh wow. This book sounds amazing. I love books involving ships and the Navy, so it sounds right up my street. I love the cover too.

    Found you by accident after a google image search, but I’ll definitely be back. New follower! *waves*

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    1. Hurray! I knew all those images would come in handy eventually and, lovely to meet you! (Fab blog by the way, I’ve added you to my reader). This is a fabulous book (I’m sure my enthusiasm is clear from the post) it’s just got just the right grimyness to rustling silk ratio for me…

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  2. Oh I’m so glad to see a review of this. I’m also a historical fiction junkie and bought this after I saw the author at an event. But I haven’t dared open it because it seemed too perfect to be true. Now I will grab it up post-haste. Have you read Patrick O’Brian? I love his Aubrey Maturin books which are set around the same time as She Rises.

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    1. I haven’t actually so thanks for the tip, I’ll have to keep an eye out, I adore historical fiction. I haven’t seen enough reviews of this actually which is a shame because I really loved it. Can’t wait to see what you think!

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