Tuesday 29 September 2020

BLOG TOUR: The Girl with the Scarlet Ribbon - Glenda Young

'You deserve more than this, Jess... You deserve to know the truth about the McNallys.'

When a newborn baby girl is found abandoned with nothing but a scarlet ribbon tied to her basket, Ada Davidson, housekeeper of the wealthy McNally family's home, the Uplands, takes her into her care. Sworn to secrecy about the baby's true identity, Ada names her Jess and brings her up as her own, giving Jess no reason to question where she came from.

But when Ada passes away, grief-stricken Jess, now sixteen, is banished from the place she's always called home. With the scarlet ribbon the only connection to her past, will Jess ever find out where she really belongs? And will she uncover the truth about the ruthless McNallys?

What did I think?

I've only recently discovered local Sunderland author Glenda Young and what a fabulous discovery she is.  Living in the North East, it's almost obligatory to have family sagas in your library and I read a fair few in my youth.  I thought my saga reading days were over until Glenda Young hooked me with her proggy mat hook in Pearl of Pit Lane so I was very eager to read her new book, The Girl with the Scarlet Ribbon; so eager in fact that I read it in just two sittings over the course of 24 hours.

One of my favourite things to discover in a book is a map and I love the map of Ryhope, Sunderland from 1919 that Glenda Young has included in the front of the book.  They certainly had a lot of pubs in such a small area back then, but with Ryhope being a mining community the men working underground all day certainly deserved a pint or two after their shift.

The main character of Jess is such an outstanding character; I felt very protective of her possibly due to the reader being there at her birth in 1903.  Left on the steps of the McNally house in a basket with a scarlet ribbon attached to the handle, Jess is taken in by housekeeper, Ada.  Jess has such a happy life with Ada, despite James McNally's attempts to erase her existence, until Ada dies and Jess suddenly finds herself homeless and alone at 16 years old.  I really felt for Jess but she shows that she's made of stronger stuff and that horrible James McNally better watch out for the whiplash of karma.

Although very character driven, and what wonderful characters they are, the writing is so vivid that I felt as if I was walking through Ryhope village myself.  I certainly felt like I was on the beach in one particular scene with Glenda Young's evocative writing giving me goosebumps.  I love the little elements of Sunderland history that Glenda includes in her impeccably well researched novel, namely Sunderland's famous Vaux beer and the heartbreaking Victoria Hall disaster.

Glenda Young is an extraordinarily talented storyteller and The Girl with the Scarlet Ribbon is a wonderful story from beginning to end; it's more heartwarming than a roaring coal fire.  Superbly written, the storyline is compelling and surprising with characters that are so vivid they virtually leap out from the page.  I absolutely loved it and wholeheartedly recommend it.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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