A Maiden’s Voyage by Rosie Goodwin - book review: There is darkness, deceit, death and despair but in true Goodwin style

A Maidens Voyage by Rosie Goodwin
A Maidens Voyage by Rosie Goodwin

As Thursday’s child, Flora Butler should have known that she had far to go… but travelling to New York on a magnificent cruise liner was beyond her wildest dreams.

However, the year is 1912 and the young lady’s maid is booked on to the maiden voyage of a ship that everyone says is unsinkable… the RMS Titanic.

Rosie Goodwin returns with another gritty, drama-packed saga in her enchanting Days of the Week series – which includes the page-turning novels Mothering Sunday, The Little Angel, A Mother’s Grace and The Blessed Child – and has won her an army of admirers and a fistful of accolades.

A former social worker and foster mother, Goodwin has written over 30 novels, and was awarded the rights to follow three of the late, great Tyneside writer Catherine Cookson’s trilogies with her own sequels.

In A Maiden’s Voyage – a gripping tale which moves between the heart of London and the busy metropolis of New York City in the early decades of the 20th century – Goodwin brings us the rollercoaster triumphs and tragedies of a teenager forced into a battle of survival an ocean away from her home and family.

Eighteen-year-old Flora Butler is going up in the world from her modest home in the back streets of Whitechapel. She has the prized position of lady’s maid and companion to young Constance (Connie) Ogilvie who lives with her wealthy widowed father in upmarket Mayfair.

The ambitious Flora is relieved that she is now able to help provide for her beloved parents and her four siblings. She has even fallen in love, and although she does not feel quite ready to marry the handsome and charming Jamie Branning, her future seems clear.

Connie, who is almost identical in age to Flora, was adopted and on her deathbed her adoptive mother told the child that she had never really wanted her. Although her father loves her dearly and spoils her shamelessly, Connie is desperately lonely and relies on Flora for friendship.

But the lives of both young women are turned upside down when Connie’s father is killed in a tragic accident. Under the terms of his will, Connie is forced to move to New York to live with her aunt until she reaches her majority at 21, and she begs Flora to go with her.

Flora has never left the country before, and she now faces a difficult decision… give up her position and miss the chance to see something of the world, or leave her family behind.

When her boyfriend, Jamie, lets her down, Flora makes up her mind to go to New York for a few of years and then return home with Connie. Soon, the two young women are heading for Southampton to board the Titanic in the hope of an adventure… unaware of the disaster that awaits them.

Goodwin delivers a springtime sizzler… a heartbreaking and dramatic story filled with the emotional depth and warm humanity that readers have come to expect from this insightful and psychologically astute author, and a welcome reunion with a favourite character from an earlier book in this series.

A Maiden’s Voyage is brimming with romance, intrigue, fascinating characters, and the richly detailed and atmospheric settings that have won these Days of the Week sagas such an army of adoring fans.

Flora’s turbulent journey from London’s lowly Whitechapel and luxurious Mayfair to disaster on the high seas and the friendships and hardships of life in one of the world’s biggest and busiest cities is an exciting and moving blend of fact and fiction.

There is darkness, deceit, death and despair but in true Goodwin style, there is also hope, redemption and a final last act that is guaranteed to raise smiles and warm hearts.

(Zaffre, hardback, £12.99)