If George Elliot, author of Middlemarch, had wanted to pen an entertaining mystery, it might have read something like this intriguing novel.
Cannon Tom Cross is well liked by his parishioners, works tirelessly for the poor, is engaged in prison reform, counsels the troubled, and visits the sick. One night, in October 1907, after concluding his hospital visits he gets in a London cab for a ride to his lodgings, the next morning he is found in a remote wood, many miles from London, beaten to within an inch of his life,
Going for a ramble in the forest that morning Miranda Thorne discovers him and with her brother Simon takes him to their remote cottage in the woods where in the succeeding months they nurse him back to health.
When asked his name, Tom makes up an alias. He doesn’t know who is after him. For a clergyman he has managed to annoy quite a variety of people. There is the wealthy parishioner whose wife he seduced, the factory owner he challenged causing an uproar, or the other Canon rivaling him for the position of Dean soon to be open. And then there are the secrets of his past with other potential assailants. So, Tom keeps his identity secret.
But the Thorne’s have secrets of their own to protect. Miranda is a gifted artist and Simon, an outgoing sort, is not the type of man to seek such an isolated abode without reasons.
The secrets of the past, the conflicts of the present, collide with consequence.— Deon Stonehouse
Great Expectations meets Grantchester in this story of love and lies, secrets and second chances, set in Edwardian England.
Beaten and left for dead in the English countryside, clergyman and reformer Tom Cross is rescued and nursed back to health by Miranda and Simon Thorne, reclusive siblings who seem to have as many secrets as he does. Tom has spent years helping the downtrodden in London while lying to everyone he meets, but now he’s forced to slow down and confront his unexamined life.
Miranda, a skilled artist, is haunted by her painful past and unable to imagine a future. Tom is a welcome distraction from her troubles, but she’s determined to relegate him to her fantasy world, sensing that any real relationship with him would be more trouble than it’s worth. Besides, she has sworn to remain devoted to someone she’s left behind.
When Tom returns to London, his life begins to unravel as he faces the consequences of both his affair with a married woman and his abusive childhood. When his secrets catch up with him and his reputation is destroyed, he realizes that Miranda is the only person he trusts with the truth. What he doesn’t realize is that even if she believes him and returns his feelings, he can’t free her from the shackles of her past.
About the Author
Clarissa Harwood holds a PhD in English Literature with a specialization in Nineteenth-Century British Literature. In addition to being a proud member of the Historical Novel Society, Clarissa is a part-time university instructor and full-time grammar nerd who loves to explain the difference between restrictive and nonrestrictive clauses. She lives in London, Ontario.
A smart and highly civilized tale about love, temptation, and second chances.
Historical fiction fans with a penchant for complexity in their romances will appreciate this story of two ardent people overcoming the pasts they can no longer escape.
Harwood has taken the villain from her last novel and turned him into a sympathetic, if flawed, protagonist. Both historical-fiction and historical-romance fans will relish this novel, in which characterization is strong and realistically informed by backstories and in which two damaged people come to truly know themselves and find their missing pieces in each other.
An intriguing study of a flawed man. All the characters in this novel, even the minor ones, are complex and surprising, and Harwood deftly blends social realism with fairytale lyricism in a way that is moving without being sentimental.
An impressively and deftly crafted novel that will engage the readers complete attention as the author presents more unanticipated plot line twists and turns than a Coney Island roller coaster.
Readers who enjoy a tender love story will want to keep turning pages to learn these characters' secrets and find out whether and how they come together.