This is a review of the book 'Gypsy' by Lesley Pearse. I have to warn you, I am going to gush about this book as I couldn't put it down once I started reading it!
***A bit about the storyline***
The story begins in 1893 in Liverpool and follows the story of Beth and her brother Sam. Both parents die whilst they are still in their teens and they have to quickly fend for themselves, find a place to live and jobs to support them.
**A massive journey***
A number of events help make their decision to sail to America to find their fortune and they meet people on the boat who quickly become close friends and the four of them live in New York and Canada. They are swept up in the gold fever and travel to the Klondike river area to find gold. Beth supports them on their journey by playing the fiddle in clubs and her talent quickly earns the title of the Gypsy queen.
***Touching tale of family and friends***
The book is beautifully written and captures your imagination and the tough and tragic times that Beth and Sam go through. Through thick and thin they stick together and look out for each other's wellbeing. A few rogue characters along the way relieve them of their money and savings and they really do live in some poverty stricken situations.
****A trusting character**
Beth wants to believe everyone is good and means well at some level and the number of times people let her down and take from her good natured attitude has you crossing your fingers for her. She is often too trusting though although you can see there is a spark and a determined independence there when the going gets tough.
**Good historical romance***
I loved the era this book was set in and the costumes and trends were painted vividly in the book. I will definitely look out for more books by this author and although it comes under the 'romance' genre, which I would usually avoid I really enjoyed reading this. If you see a copy, snatch it up as the twists and turns in the book are completely unpredictable.
I find the concept of gold-fever fascinating and the reality of it is that a lot of people perished on the journey to find gold, and once there it was not as easy as all the media hype made it out to be. A few struck lucky and got rich but many settled in the town areas and set up businesses to make money from the people heading for the gold. Women could make money by selling their bodies, and that's what they did! Beth's talent on the fiddle ensured she never had to sink to these levels thankfully.
I don't think you can help being sucked into this book, and as I said earlier, I couldn't put it down. You are taken on a massive journey both emotionally and geographically throughout the book and find characters to like and love and some to hate too!
I had never read a Lesley Pearse novel, but when I received this book, I had a little look on Amazon at her previous releases, and they all had superb reviews, so I immediately looked forward to reading her latest release, Gypsy. The book starts in 1893, something which I admit puts me off slightly as I do not normally enjoy historical novels, but this one gripped me right away.
It's 1893, and brother and sister Sam and Beth are living in Liverpool with their parents, Alice and Frank Bolton. They have a happy life together, with their father running a successful shoe repairs business, and a happy home. But their lives are shattered by the sudden death of their father, and life is changed irrevocably for the pair. Secrets come out about their mother, a new life enters their world, and Sam and Beth have to cope with things much beyond their young years. Eventually, the pair get the courage to live out their dreams of travelling, and set off for America, where they meet new friends. Cockney Jack is strong and a hard worker, and immediately befriends Beth, and English Gentleman Theo charms Beth with his money and suave character. The four set off of a life-changing journey - things will never be the same again for Beth and Sam but in a good way or a bad?
This book really moves along at such a quick pace, and it is this which makes it so enjoyable for the reader. It starts introducing us to the safe life of Beth and Sam but soon the real journey begins, and life changes for the pair when Molly enters their lives. We hear mostly from Beth, as it is her the book is based around but as the book is written in the third person, the book is able to follow each of the characters throughout the book with ease and with smooth transistions. Lesley Pearse writes with such emotion, and such a great understanding of human relationships that you cannot help but get immersed in the story, transporting yourself back over 100 years to the lives of Beth and Sam.
Pearse has clearly done her research when writing this book, because the detail used throughout the book about life in the 1890's is intricate and so full of information you just want to know more all the time. I found the part of the book set in America just fascinating to read, you hear about how hard life was for people, from finding jobs to living on the streets to make ends meet. Our characters are never in peril but still face uncertainty and this encourages you to read on, just to find out if they will manage to survive another obstacle put it their way. For me though, the final third of the book set in the mountains hunting for gold was the most enjoyable, purely because of the twists and turns that take place, many of which you cannot see coming, and I was so shocked at some of the events. It is this which makes this book so fantastic, there are plot twists right up until you turn the final page!
Pearse's writing style is really easy to read, you don't have to concentrate too hard because the text just flows beautifully, unravelling a fascinating and interesting story you will struggle to put down. Beth and Sam are both loveable characters, although Sam can be irritating at times. But Beth is a great heroine - strong, independent and a successful woman. Jack provides a contrast to Sam, his will to succeed is contagious, and finally Theo is the real cad of the story - I certainly didn't warm to him at all but he was very well written and clearly the villain of the piece! The book goes through 6 years, ending up in 1899, so we get to grow up with Beth, meeting her as a 16 year old girl, naive and unsure about the world, and we leave her a grown 22 year old woman, wise beyond her years and having experienced life in a way she'd never have imagined before.
I am so glad to have been sent this book, because it is really an amazing story and such an enjoyable read. I cannot recommend it highly enough, because you just cannot help but lose yourself in the adventures of Beth, Sam and their friends. At over 500 pages, it isn't a short book but I ploughed through it quickly, because I was just eager to see what was going to happen to the group at the end. A wonderful absorbing story which is sure to be a hit with booklovers everywhere. Beautifully written, and a joy to read.
ISBN: 978-0718152833. Published by Michael Joseph Ltd in July 2008. The hardback contains 528 pages and is available on Amazon for £7.65. For more information on Lesley Pearse, please see her website at http://www.lesleypearse.com/.
Thank you for reading.
This review has previously on www.thebookbag.co.uk.