Thursday 11 May 2023

The Sixpenny Orphan - Glenda Young

'Please, sir, take us both. We only have each other. We don't know how to live apart.'

After the death of their parents, sisters Poppy and Rose are taken in by widow Nellie Harper. But whilst they have a roof over their heads, the young orphans are unloved, unwanted, and always hungry, with only one pair of boots between them. Keen to make money, Nellie hatches a plan to sell the girls to the mysterious Mr Scurrfield. But when the day comes for them to leave, Scurrfield reveals he will take only one of the sisters - and he will decide which it will be on the turn of a sixpence.

Ten years later, Poppy is married with three children. Not a day goes by when she doesn't think about Rose, but after many years of searching, Poppy has accepted that her sister is lost to her. That is until a letter suddenly arrives, revealing Rose's fate and breaking Poppy's heart. Determined to be reunited with her beloved sister, Poppy sets out to bring Rose home.

What did I think?

It is always a pleasure to read a Glenda Young novel and The Sixpenny Orphan is no exception.  I absolutely love these sagas set just after World War I in the coal mining village of Ryhope in Sunderland.  The past is brought vividly to life through the warm and evocative writing of natural storyteller, Glenda Young.

This book starts in 1909 when orphans Poppy and Rose are children living in the farming community of Ryhope with Nellie the knocker upper.  I didn't even know such a role existed but in the days before alarm clocks, the coalminers needed somebody to wake them up before their shift at the pit.  Nellie has plans to turn the girls from a burden into a commodity but when a man from Sunderland turns up to buy them, he will only take Rose.

Oh my heart broke for these two girls.  They have had so much heartache in their short life since the death of their parents and then living in such awful conditions with a woman who doesn't care about them.  Splitting them up is devastating for both Poppy and Rose but we really see what Poppy is made of when she hatches a plan to bring Rose home as the book jumps forward ten years to 1919.

This is a novel that entertains from start to finish.  The characters are so realistic and the scenery so vivid that I could picture it clearly in my mind.  Of course it helps a little that I know Ryhope well but I can't walk through the village now without replaying scenes in my head from Glenda's fantastic novels.

There is so much to love about this book: the wonderful characters and the challenges they face, the entertaining and compelling storyline and the jam tarts that I could almost taste.  Even the dedication page gave me a lump in my throat!  The dirty and cramped living conditions in a coalmining village must have been awful, but the resilience and fierce determination of Glenda's female characters completely warms your heart.

The Sixpenny Orphan is such a heartwarming, heartbreaking and entertaining read that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend.  I used to say I wasn't a saga reader but then I discovered Glenda Young's novels: this is not just a saga, this is a Glenda Young saga and it's simply wonderful.

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

My rating:

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About the author:

Glenda Young credits her local library in the village of Ryhope, where she grew up, for giving her a love of books. She still lives close by in Sunderland and often gets her ideas for her stories on long bike rides along the coast. The novels are inspired by Glenda’s love of soap opera, and are dramatic with lots of action and wonderful female characters. There’s a lot of warmth and humour too. 

A life-long fan of Coronation Street, Glenda runs two hugely popular fan websites including the Coronation Street Blog since 2007 and the original fan website, online since 1995. Glenda is also the creator of the first ever weekly soap opera, ‘Riverside’ which appears in The People’s Friend, the longest running women’s magazine in the world. 

As well as her gritty sagas, Glenda writes a fun, cosy crime series set in a Scarborough B&B. Glenda has had short fiction published in Take a Break, My Weekly, The People’s Friend and Best and in 2019 was a finalist in the Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais Comedy Award.

For updates on what Glenda is working on, visit her website and to find out more find her on Facebook @GlendaYoungAuthor Twitter @flaming_nora and Tiktok @glenda_young_author

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