Ireland, 1901: The workhouse gates clanged shut behind us, as me and the mammy walked down the hill towards the town. I was six years old and leaving the only home I had ever known…
When Cissy Ryan’s real mother comes to claim her from the workhouse, it’s not how she imagined. Her family’s tumbledown cottage has ice on the inside of its windows and is in an isolated, poverty-stricken village in the muddy Irish countryside. But when Cissy is allowed to help neighbour Colm Doyle and his horse named Blue on their milk round one morning, Cissy starts to feel as though friendship could get her through anything.
It’s Colm who looks in on Cissy’s grandfather when she starts at the village school, and Colm who tells her to hold her chin high when she interviews for a position at the grand Bretton House. But in the vast mansion with its shining floors and sweeping staircase, it’s Master Peter Bretton who captures Cissy’s heart with his dark curls and easy laugh.
As Cissy blossoms from a skinny orphan into a confident young girl, Colm tells her she’s as good as anyone and she begins to believe anything is possible. But not everyone with a kind smile has a kind heart, and Cissy doesn’t know that further sorrow lies in store for her.
When Cissy finds herself desperate, alone, and faced with a devastating choice, can she find the strength to survive?
Sandy Taylor has done an outstanding job taking you back to 1901 on the Irish countryside. Being a young orphan girl then meant that Cissy had a temporary feeling of belonging. First in the workhouse where she made a friend and then in Mammy and Granddaddy’s cottage where she met Colm.
Sandy Taylor painted a vivid picture of a young, lost girl who so badly wanted to feel like she belonged and felt loved. She adored Colm and learned to love Mammy and Grandaddy and eventually attended school, got a job and began feeling her life had purpose. Until she began working at the Bretton house.
From there, Cissy’s life changed and she began feeling like she lost hope as she harbored a secret. After moving to the convent and then returning home, Mammy knows that Cissy hid something for all those months. She is determined to help Cissy get back what is hers. But is it too late? What’s been lost has been long gone!
I highly recommend this historical fiction account of what life may have been like for a poor orphan girl living on the Irish countryside in the early 1900’s and how her strength and determination might have just been the key to her happiness!
Sandy Taylor grew up on a council estate near Brighton.
There were no books in the house, so Sandy’s love of the written word was
nurtured in the little local library.
Leaving school at fifteen, Sandy worked in a series of factories before landing a job at Butlins in Minehead.
This career change led her to becoming a singer, a stand-up comic and eventually a playwright and novelist.
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