The darkest sin casts the longest shadow... RUBY FLYNN, set in Ireland and Liverpool, is the enthralling story of a family haunted by ancient wrongs.
The FitzDeanes are wealthy. They have Ballyford Castle in Ireland and a growing shipping business in Liverpool. But Lady FitzDeane is unable to provide an heir. All of her five boys have died in infancy. There are whispers that the family is cursed - punished for a terrible mistake long buried in the past.
When young Ruby Flynn, an orphan reared and educated by nuns, arrives at Ballyford to work as a nursery maid, she cannot shake the feeling that she has been there before. But when?
Soon rumours and strong emotions are swirling around the beautiful girl with red hair, green eyes - and a mysterious past. Who is she really? And what will her arrival mean for this powerful family, riven by tragedy?
What did I think?
It's been a long time since I've read what I call a 'Mammy's book' (aka family saga) so I was quite surprised at how much I did actually enjoy Ruby Flynn. I really enjoyed the linguistic style of Nadine's writing as I could almost hear the Irish or Scouse accents of the characters in my head. As expected, it was an easy read with a slightly predictable ending but there were some events in the book that were quite unexpected, to say the least.
The book starts as a young Ruby is found during the 'great storm' with her dead parents and taken to the local convent. On her arrival at the convent there is an incident with a precious vase so we are under no illusion that Ruby is a strong feisty character and not a poor little orphan as you might have expected. I thought that there might have been more interaction with the nun characters as they are usually normally wicked or hilarious but they seem to play a very small part in the story. As Ruby gets older she is chosen to go to work in the nursery of Ballyford, which I imagined to look a bit like Downton Abbey. There are, however, no children in the nursery at Ballyford, allegedly due to the legendary curse. This was such a terribly sad story in itself as the lady of the house refuses to leave the empty nursery.
The master of the house, Charles FitzDeane, decides to set up a shipping business with Rory Doyle, the local bad guy who he thinks of as a friend, and needs little excuse to spend more and more time in Liverpool. It is no surprise that Charles ends up leading a double life to escape the sadness that awaits him back home. Then on a visit back to Ballyford he is captivated by the red hair and green eyes belonging to Ruby, and finds it easier to spend more time in Ireland. Charles and Ruby share a past that Ruby is completely unaware of and it was intriguing to watch the story of the past unfold.
It has the usual tried and tested successful formula of the rich man in the big house and the poor servant girl but what sets this apart are the unexpected, and sometimes tragic, twists and turns that the book takes us on. It's well worth a read for those who enjoyed Nadine Dorries' Four Streets Trilogy or if you're partial to a good old Catherine Cookson style family saga.
I received this e-book from the publisher, Head of Zeus, in exchange for an honest review.
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