|By Kaye Kelly
(Quoin Press - 1998)
Reviewed by Frances Grattan
|oppy Bramwell is a young housemaid at a farm in Devon, in the 1860s. Her attractive looks and lively nature bring her to the attention of the younger son of the house, Cam Ainsley. Since he is destined to marry the horse-faced Frances in Ireland, he decides a romp with the pretty Poppy would make a satisfying end to his bacherlorhood. Cam is shocked to discover Poppy is a virgin, but easily reassures himself. She came easily to his bed and, no doubt, sooner or later one of the village lads would take his place.
Poppy is head over heels in love with Cam but realizes their affair will come to an end. It is only after he has left for Ireland that she discovers she is carrying his child and understands how badly Cam has treated her.
Now shes in quite a predicament and, although she at first tries to hide her pregnant state, it isnt long before she must admit to her disgrace. Her step-mother agrees to take her in, but Poppy is treated unkindly, and during a cruel and deliberating ordeal of childbirth, she comes close to losing her life.
Her child is stillborn and, in order to rid themselves of Poppys embarrassing existence, her family finds a place for her on a ship headed for New Zealand. She eventually meets a couple who are in need of help with their young child. For the first time, Poppy finds kindness and affection. Unfortunately, disaster strikes as they land in Charleston, and Poppy is left alone with a young child to care for.
Released from the bonds of the class system back in England, Poppy is cared for and finds her new friends open and honest. Soon, she forges a comfortable existence for herself, and there is even a man who, with a little encouragement, would see her happily settled and her adopted daughter with a father.
No sooner has Poppy decided she will take that next step, then Cam arrives in Charleston with his mother and young nephew. Poppy has so much to forgive Cam for but, as soon as she sees him, she knows there could be no other man for her.
Cams mother, however, is horrified to see Poppy, and it soon becomes obvious she holds secrets that shes determined neither Poppy nor Cam discover.
This story is beautifully written. I enjoyed the characters and, of course, the setting. There are so few novels of this type, set in early New Zealand, so do give this one a try.