Wednesday, 24 November 2010
Crossriggs (Findlater) 203
I often wonder how it works when two people write a novel; you'd think that any sort of collaboration would be pretty obvious and you'd spot the different voices. The most recent VMC that I've read, Crossriggs, by Jane and Mary Findlater is a novel written in this way, but I certainly couldn't tell that it was written by two sisters.
Crossriggs is a small village near Edinburgh where the unmarried Alex Hope lives with her father. At the start of the book, her widowed sister Matilda returns to the family home with her 5 children. The sisters are very different - I wondered whether this might reflect the relationship that Jane and Mary had - Alex is independent, despite her spinster existence, whereas Matilda had obviously come to rely on her late husband and is rarely seen to voice her own opinions. It is a struggle to make ends meet - Mr Hope tries to instigate a vegetarian diet, but this does not go down well with the children, so Alex finds a job, reading aloud to a wealthy admiral in the village. Here she meets Van, the admiral's grandson, who takes a liking to Alex; she is oblivious however. The story that plays itself out is not predictable, and one of the things that I liked most about this book is that Alex is certainly not a typical spinster. She loves having the children around, and although it tires her out she is fully prepared to take on an additional job, teaching elocution in a school in the nearby town.
I really rather enjoyed this one - the Victorian setting was just right for this time of year. It's only been published once with an original green cover; I own a copy.