Bramblewell Star (Book Review)

 

Bramblewell Star is a romantic story penned by Victoria Somerled, who spent her childhood and teenage years in the Wirral but now lives on an island in the Outer Hebrides.

Her local knowledge is very evident in the use of convincingly evoked locations in Liverpool, Ellesmere Port and Chester. The story begins however in France, at the home of an aristocratic family in Brittany. Jacqueline, the 18 year old daughter of the Count and Countess of Sauzon, has decided to spend her gap year in Liverpool, a decision that stirs memories in the mind of her grandmother, who herself spent time in Liverpool as a student in the Sixties, when she regarded the city as ‘the most thrilling on earth’.

Jacqueline leaves behind in France a boyfriend, Jacqui, and away from him in England the inevitable happens. She embarks on a relationship with Teddy Laurence, a dashing but also caring and considerate young man who teaches at a school in Chester. Her heart is torn between the two but the romantic complications extend much further than that, as other characters enter the story and we learn more about the past of Jacqueline’s grandmother.

Victoria Somerled

Victoria Somerled

This is a delightful, absorbing read. Romantic fiction can be associated with weak characterisation and plot development, but this is not the case here: both are excellent. Considerable skill and imagination has gone into the creation of a complex story and an impressive range of contrasting, well developed characters. The changing moods and emotions of Jacqueline in particular are sensitively traced and engage the interest and sympathy of the reader very effectively.

One weakness the novel does share with much other romantic fiction – admittedly a fairly trivial one – is the rather unlikely names several of the characters have. The school where Teddy Laurence teaches is a private one, but even so a group of colleagues with names like Thetis Ravenswood, Lydia Dacre-Hill and Bunty West places some strain on the story’s credibility. Another flaw perhaps is the way the focus of the narrative tends to shift quite frequently, so that we are sometimes uncertain as to who the central character is, and wonder why certain characters seem to have disappeared from view. But this could be seen as a price worth paying for such a diverse collection of finely drawn characters, and the loose ends are all satisfyingly tied up by the end.

As a work of romantic fiction, this novel is clearly primarily aimed at female readers, and it can be highly recommended to women of all ages who like this genre, including teenagers who are likely to identify with several of the characters and enjoy the chapters set in Teddy’s school. The use of very recognisable regional locations adds to the book’s appeal, but you don’t have to be a Merseysider to appreciate this enchanting novel. If you know someone who’s a lover of romantic fiction, this would be an ideal gift.

Bramblewell Star is published by Countyvise Ltd. For more information, click HERE.