Orphaned at birth, Eliza lives with her beloved Grandparents in a waterlogged Somerset cottage surrounded by willow beds where she ekes out a living making laundry baskets and eel traps. Although poor she is content, until childhood friend Clem, regales her with tales of his adventures along the river and she begins to wonder what life is like beyond the Droves.
When fate brings handsome, wealthy Theo to her workshop she is instantly attracted and a rosy future beyond the Droves beckons. Only things don’t go to plan and naive Eliza finds herself in Lavender House where she is expected to care for gentlemen in a way she never imagined. Forced to flee for her life, she ends up in a woollen mill run by a corrupt foreman, working for crumbs and pennies with only her grandmother’s comb in her pocket.
Now she knows what matters in life – but is it too late? And will she ever be able to return home to those who love her?
This was a different sort of read for me, I don’t generally go for books with covers like these, but I’m glad I took a punt on this.
My grandmother was born in Devon, and so I feel a connection to the West Country of this novel, a place where people work hard and live in beautiful, but sometimes remote landscapes.
Eliza’s life is not easy, and as the book opens she has just lost her grandmother and must take on the role of running the household as well as weaving the willow baskets her family earn their living from.
In a way I quite understood her reasons for running away; a revelation rips her world apart, she finds herself alone and she feels uncertain about her future.
But her experiences in the larger towns she visits all remind of her of how much she misses her small home and the safety of the Droves.
As a love story, it’s more one of Eliza’s love for her home than of any man. Which was somewhat refreshing, no man rescues Eliza from any of her predicaments, she rescues herself.
The title is a bit long and unwieldy and certainly obscures any hint at the plot – Eliza saves herself in this one!
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour but all opinions remain my own.