The Blessed Child by Rosie Goodwin - book review: The perfect Christmas treat for all true romantics!

The Blessed Child
The Blessed Child
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‘Everything happens for a reason…’

After her father walks out and her beloved mother is murdered, Wednesday’s child Nessie Carson’s life seems to be full of woe. Her next door neighbour is convinced that something will turn up and Nessie certainly has an indomitable spirit, but will it be enough to save the teenager and her siblings from the degradation of the Victorian workhouse?

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

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.

However, the countryside around Nuneaton in Warwickshire has always been the inspiration for this much-loved author’s own tales of hardship and hope, and The Blessed Child sees master storyteller Goodwin on top form.

Packed with rich historical detail, a cast of vibrant and believable characters, and with a plot that that takes us on a rollercoaster journey through death and despair, love and loss, struggle and salvation, this is a sizzling story to savour on dark winter nights.

In Nuneaton in 1865, Wednesday (Nessie) Carson’s life is a constant struggle since her father walked out on the family and her mother was brutally murdered by a killer who has never been found. Caring and kind, 16-year-old home-maker Nessie will do anything to keep her siblings – hard-working brother Reuben, flighty younger sister Marcie and fragile baby Joseph – safe and protected.

Nessie is blossoming into a beautiful young woman and she has caught the eye of their lecherous landlord, Seth Grimshaw, who sees Nessie as the perfect wife and is prepared to stop at nothing to get what he wants.

When Reuben breaks his ankle and is unable to keep his labouring job on the railway, the family face being evicted from their cottage but salvation arrives in the form of local undertaker Andre Chevalier who offers Nessie and Reuben jobs as his live-in assistants.

Nessie is soon entwined in the fortunes of Frenchman Andre, who is being forced to live a lie, and junior doctor Oliver Dorsey, son of the owner of the local pits and brickworks, when he attends the sickly little Joseph.

As dashing as he is kind, Oliver steals Nessie’s heart even though she knows that their different social classes mean they could never be together. Meanwhile, her younger sister Marcie is playing a dangerous game that could bring shame on the family.

But even in the darkest of times and the saddest of places, Nessie Carson never gives up because she knows in her heart that there is light, love and the promise of happiness if you are brave enough and strong enough to search for it…

Goodwin is a wonderful writer… she packs her warm and wise novels with beautifully drawn characters, twisting and turning plotlines filled with romance and drama, and imbues every story with an emotional intensity that has made her an undisputed saga queen.

In The Blessed Child, she tackles 19th century social and class issues with her trademark compassion and insight whilst creating an inspirational and resilient heroine whose uplifting story resonates long after the last page has turned.

The perfect Christmas treat for all true romantics!

(Zaffre, hardback, £12.99)