Thursday 10 March 2022

BLOG TOUR: The Daisy Chain - Al Campbell

Set in an incredibly exciting period of history, a pacy debut, brimming with adventure and romance

England, 1771: Recently orphaned Daisy Salter moves from quiet Suffolk society to the hustle and bustle of London. A talented botanical illustrator and amateur scientist, frustrated Daisy finds herself governess to the daughter of her sister and brutish noble brother-in-law.

However, a chance encounter with pre-eminent scientist Joseph Banks changes everything and, when the extent of her talent is revealed, Daisy not only becomes Artist in Residence at the magnificent Kew Gardens, but confidante of Queen Charlotte, King George III’s wife.

But whilst science and plant hunting expeditions are flourishing, at sea the ‘triangular trade’ is in full swing and Daisy is unwittingly inveigled into espionage, tea smuggling and the slave trade. Who is friend and who is foe? Can Daisy work out whom to trust before disaster strikes?

What did I think?

Before I even start to tell you what I thought of The Daisy Chain, I have to mention the absolutely beautiful cover.  The majority of the book is set in Kew Gardens and not only did Al Campbell's writing transport me there, but the stunning cover drew me in and I could almost smell the flowers.

The book has a little bit of everything in it that kept me enthralled from start to finish: there's romance, history and feminism (to name but a few) but it's also filled with tension as we don't know who Daisy can trust.  I loved the main character of Daisy and equally so her maid, Kate.  Kate becomes more friend than maid at a time when parliament is debating the abolition of slavery.

Daisy is a strong and incredibly likeable character.  Daisy is a talented artist and this is recognised by Kew Gardens who invite her to become the Artist in Residence, much to the chagrin of her brother-in-law, the odious Hugo.  Hugo took Daisy in when her father died as he thought he would get a free governess for his daughter; after all, what are women for if not to do a man's bidding?  Thankfully, Daisy breaks those chains!

Slavery is one of the threads running through the book and reading about the plight of slaves both angered and saddened me.  Al Campbell writes about this very respectfully and sensitively, but you can't help yourself imagining what these frightened people went through after being snatched from their homes and transported to a cold, wet and windy island.

There are lots of plot lines but my favourite has to be Daisy's personal life; Daisy has two suitors but only one will win her heart and the ending couldn't have been more perfect.  I also loved the glimpse into the royal court of King George III and Queen Charlotte.  I could write so much more about the book but I don't want to spoil it for others.

The Daisy Chain is a fabulous debut, set in the Georgian era - a period of history that I knew little about.  The writing is beautiful, the plot is enthralling and I highly recommend it to fans of historical fiction, or readers looking for something different to read.

I received an ARC to read and review for the blog tour; this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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