This book alternated between enthralling and aggravating. On the one hand the prose was beautiful if, at times, pretentious and somewhat overblown. Some of these scenes were truly evocative and moving. However the author did not seem to have done much research in terms of historical accuracy. This book was supposed to take place around the same period as Austen and if you have ever ready anything authentically written at that time you'll be very disappointed at all the inaccuracies, from clothes to speech, and especially in the social norms which so governed behavior and attitudes in the British Empire at the time. Although these inaccuracies drove me crazy as I read, I still couldn't put the book aside. It is a fairly well-written (if not well researched) Gothic bodice-ripper; thrilling and harrowing and, in the end, lots of fun.
At age 11 Linnet Gow is forced into prostitution by her evil stepfather and after one terrifying night that leaves her scarred but with new determination Linny escapes to freedom.
Reduced to doing the only thing she knows how to do, sell her body, Linny joins a group of prostitutes and saves her money to eventually buy herself passage to America so she can build her life there, free from the rough and nasty English streets that she has only known.
After working an overly rough customer one night however Linny finds herself hurt and falls into the kindly hands of Shaker, a would-be-doctor who has nothing left to offer but his kindness. By passing her off as his cousin, Linny manages to escape poverty and makes a name for herself as a lady, if a low-bred one.
After making friends with Faith, a plucky, free-spirited and well-off girl, the two ladies head for India, their goal, for Faith at least, to find husbands. India however turns out to smother Linny despite its beauty and exoticness. Through a chance encounter with a ghost from her past Linny soon finds herself in a loveless marriage and though it threatens to crush her spirit, she finds a way to survive and eventually, thrive.
Despite an admittedly cliché plot: Spirited girl cant conform to society, The Linnet Bird was engaging. Holemans descriptions and plot twists keeps the reader wanting more. I was genuinely sad when this book ended. Id built a relationship with Linny and always wanted more for her despite the fact that she was a less-than-loveable heroine.
Holeman truly does have the ability to create pictures with words, and this is reason enough to pick up The Linnet Bird.
For a first book, Linda Holeman has a real winner. I loved this book and couldn't put it down. Very descriptive and moving in its story of British imperialism at it's height. A good look at the condition of women in the l800's. We've come a long way, baby. I recommend this book highly. Sometimes colorful, sometimes disturbing, never dull. Genny Sikes
Another incredible read from Linda Holeman. She has the ability to paint pictures with her words, and transport you to the locations that she writes so vividly and beautifully about. I'm always sad when I finish one her books, I just want them to go on and on. Very highly recommended!
Though it does have some romance, this book is much more a historical fiction work. Set in England and India, the female protagonist is strong and manages to rise above her humble beginnings in poverty to make a better life for herself. I found the story quite interesting, and the 500 pages flew by quickly. Recommended.