Friday, 11 July 2014

Kim's Review : The Wilderling

Claire Lorrimer is the pen name of Patricia Robins, daughter of renowned novelist Denise Robins. However, Claire's writing is quite different from her mother's Romantic Genre. Her books include 2 Historical Fiction Trilogies among other Historical sagas, some contemporary fiction and a couple of murder mysteries thrown in for good measure. She also published her Autobiography "You Never Know" in 2007.

"The Wilderling" is the second book in the Rochford Trilogy, but it can be easily read as a stand alone novel. The main character in this book is Lucienne Sophia Rochford, nee Sophie, nee Le Perle, nee Lucy, nee Countess Zemski. The first book in the series "The Chatelaine" is centered around her mother Willow and the final book "Fools Curtain/ the Dynasty" stars her much younger aunt - Zandra.

There is also a reference in this book, to characters from her Women of Fire Saga Trilogy : Mavreen aka Scarlett, Tamarisk aka Antoinette and Chantal.

The first part of "The Wilderling" deals with the surprise reappearance of Lucienne Sophia Rochford at the death of her father Lord Rochford, 17 years after the entire family thought that she had died at birth. Her father had discovered her existence a year earlier and sent her to a polishing school, where she could learn to be a Lady, before he planned to bring her home, introduce her to society and have her run his home for him, especially since his wife had left him with their 2 younger children and had been living in the United States. Sadly, he died before she could finish her education.

Slowly the details behind Lucienne's terrible childhood emerge and the family does their best to keep it concealed from the rest of the world. Part 1 occurs between 1911 & 1912, mostly focusing on Lucy's back story and ending at her elopement and honeymoon in Italy, with a few historical events woven into it - the sinking of the Titanic and the Suffragette movement among others.

Part 2 is set between 1912 - 1916, when Lucy begins to enjoy all the privileges of being rich and titled, with an indulgent, generous, non-demanding husband to boot. She gets involved with the Suffragette movement (although only superficially) and then with the set of "young" moneyed and penniless wastrels who are only interested in partying, dancing, the theater and movies. Her entire energy and time is devoted to these activities, while her little girl Teo is completely taken care of by her nanny. While the Count isn't very happy with the state of affairs, he explains it away by virtue of her being much younger to him and finally enjoying her life for a change.

However World War I breaks out close to home and slowly its not just the staff that is signing up to go off to war, but also her brothers and friends of the family. This part has almost equal parts of personal story and Historical events.

Part 3 set in 1916-1918 is much more heavily focused on Historical events than her personal story. Movement of the troops, gains and losses, the events in Russia involving Rasputin, the murder of the Russian Royal Family, the renaming of the British Royal family from their German antecedents to The House of Windsor and the Battenburgs to Mountbattens, the joining up of American troops, rationing, all of these are detailed in this part. The most detailed sections are the conversion of family homes to hospitals and convalescent homes and the conversion of park lands and forests to agricultural fields to help end dependence of imported food.

The Wilderling is very well written and very difficult to put down. I read it in 2 days straight and that's only because there were some jobs that could not be avoided.

This is the first time I was reading a book with so much detail about the events surrounding World War I and it was very enlightening. Geographically, the novel spans Britain, France, Holland, Italy and Russia. It is a very well crafted book of Historical Fiction because of the wealth of Historical information and detail that is skilfully held together by a very interesting story line.

Heavily recommended for lovers of Historical Fiction.

Rating : 4 / 5

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