The House at Silvermoor is the first book I have read by Tracy Rees and I am kicking myself that I haven’t discovered her historical fiction before. The good news for me is that she has written several other books so I will be able to seek them out.
The House at Silvermoor begins around the beginning of the 20th century and follows the lives of Josie and Tommy who meet when young children and become firm friends. They are from mining communities, from neighbouring rival villages, and both know that there is little to be expected from their lives beyond marriage for Josie and going down the mine for Tommy. They dream about a life beyond the pit villages and both are fascinated by the families who own the mines and control their lives.
Tracy Rees’ writing takes you right into the era, showing how hard life was for mining communities and how they were totally at the mercy of the pit owners. And mercy was something in short supply, especially if something went wrong. Women and children could find themselves flung out their homes if a miner could no longer work or was killed in a pit accident. I could absolutely understand Tommy’s dread at going underground and Tracy Rees described his first terrifying, back breaking dark days in the mines so clearly. Josie too had few opportunities open to her and could only see a life of drudgery ahead, having children, constantly cleaning coal dust, and struggling to feed a family just as her mother and the other women had to do.
And yet these two young people had dreams which they thought could never come true. They both dreamed of a better life for themselves. I loved reading about how they always had ambitions even when life seemed so very hard. Josie in particular was a feisty character, a trait which often got her into trouble but also gave her the chance to make changes in her life. The bond between Tommy and Josie was so well described and the strength their friendship gave to each other was clear. They always stood up for each other and wanted the best for each other.
Another strand of the story features the families who own the mines and hold the livelihood of the villagers in their hands. Here we see two contrasting families with the Sedgewicks of Silvermoor being a much kinder family, showing more duty of care towards their employees whereas the Barridge family of Heston Manor are much more unsympathetic and often negligent. Tommy and Josie’s lives become more intertwined with these families than they ever imagined. With secrets concerning both families coming to light, this made for some intriguing reading.
A book about friendship and love and never giving up on your dreams, The House at Silvermoor is an atmospheric read with secrets, love and ambition at its heart.
My thanks to Milly Reid at publishers Quercus for my review copy of the book. It is available now in hardback, ebook and audiobook formats and you will find various buying and ordering options on the Quercus website here. At the time of writing the Kindle version was available for just 99p (please check before you buy) – you can order that here: The House at Silvermoor. The paperback will be published on 2nd April.
From the back of the book
England, 1899. A new century is dawning, and two young friends are about to enter into a world of money, privilege and family secrets…
Josie has never questioned her life in a South Yorkshire mining village. But everything changes when she meets Tommy from the neighbouring village. Tommy has been destined for a life underground since the moment he was born. But he has far bigger dreams for his future.
United by their desire for something better and by their fascination with the local gentry, Josie and Tommy become fast friends. Wealthy and glamorous, the Sedgewicks of Silvermoor inhabit a world that is utterly forbidden to Tommy and Josie. Yet as the new century arrives, the pair become entangled with the grand family, and discover a long hidden secret. Will everything change as they all step forward into the new dawn…?
About the author
Tracy Rees has been called “the most outstanding new voice in historical fiction” by Lucinda Riley and her books are paperback and kindle bestsellers. She was the winner of the Richard and Judy ‘Search for a Bestseller’ Competition. A Cambridge graduate, she had a successful eight-year career in nonfiction publishing and a second career practising and teaching humanistic counselling before becoming a writer. She lives in Wales.
Visit Tracy on twitter at @AuthorTracyRees