Book review: Florence Grace by Tracy Rees

3 Jul

florence graceFlorrie Buckley is an orphan, living on the wind-blasted moors of Cornwall. It’s a hard existence but Florrie is content; she runs wild in the mysterious landscape. She thinks her destiny is set in stone. But when Florrie is fifteen, she inherits a never-imagined secret. She is related to a wealthy and notorious London family, the Graces. Overnight, Florrie’s life changes and she moves from country to city, from poverty to wealth. Cut off from everyone she has ever known, Florrie struggles to learn the rules of this strange new world. And then she must try to fathom her destructive pull towards the enigmatic and troubled Turlington Grace, a man with many dark secrets of his own.

Florence Grace is Tracy Rees’s second novel, following the Richard and Judy bestseller Amy Snow. This is the first of Tracy’s books that I’ve read and I enjoyed it so much that I’ll definitely be reading her other novel as soon as possible. I love historical fiction and Tracy makes a wonderful new addition to the genre. Florence Grace is entertaining, romantic and captivating; a novel that will sweep you away to nineteenth century London and Cornwall and introduce you to characters that you won’t want to leave when the story ends.

Florrie Buckley is an orphan who lives with her Nan on the Cornish moors. The novel follows her journey from childhood to adulthood; sea and countryside to the big city and from having very little to being part of a wealthy and notorious family as she becomes Florence Grace. I loved the contrasts of this novel and immediately took Florrie to my heart. Florrie is a wonderful character; spirited, clever and insightful; adventurous, loving and kind – a stark contrast to many of the other characters in the book.

The descriptions of Cornish moorland are beautiful and Tracy captures the sense of freedom and Florrie’s connection with her homeland beautifully. There’s a touch of magic to this story, very subtly done as Florrie grows up using her senses to read the people she meets and to make the most of the natural world to help those around her through her friendship with Old Rilla. There’s also a philosophical air of timeless and insightful advice to the story that sees Florrie learning lessons in life and love that can equally apply today as to a couple of hundred years ago and I loved this aspect of the book.

A chance meeting with two handsome, rich, but very different brothers begins Florrie’s path towards her fate and two years later, fifteen year old Florrie finds that she is in fact part of the famous Grace family and is soon swept away to London to join them. The London part of Florrie’s story as she joins the Grace family is less Cinderella-style transformation and more dark fairytale as Florrie struggles to accept the rules and demands placed upon her in her new life. The Grace’s are a mysterious and enigmatic group from patriarch Hawker to ethereal Calantha and of course the two very different cousins Sanderson and Turlington and as the book progresses it’s clear that everyone in the family has their secrets.

Florence’s attraction to her rebellious cousin Turlington is brilliantly written and Tracy develops that thread of the story tantalisingly – readers who like their heroes dark and brooding will love Turlingt0n and I was on the edge of my seat as I read wondering what would happen to the pair. As the novel came to its conclusion the pace of the story didn’t let up as Tracy kept the surprises coming! Florence Grace is one of my favourite historical novels of the year so far and I can’t recommend it highly enough for readers looking for an unputdownable book this summer.

5/5

Florence Grace is out now in paperback and ebook formats from Quercus.

I’d like to thank the publisher for providing a review copy of this book.

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