Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Blog Tour Review: She Rises by Kate Worsley

From the Back Cover:

It is 1740 and Louise Fletcher, a young dairy maid on an Essex farm, has been warned of the lure of the sea for as long as she can remember--after all, it stole away her father and brother. But when she is offered work in the bustling naval port of Harwich, as a lady's maid to a wealthy captain's daughter, she leaps at the chance to see more of the world. There she meets Rebecca, her haughty young mistress, who is unlike anyone Louise has encountered before: as unexpected as she is fascinating.

Intertwined with her story is fifteen-year-old Luke's: He is drinking in a Harwich tavern when it is raided by Her Majesty's Navy. Unable to escape, Luke is beaten and press ganged and sent to sea on board the warship Essex. He must learn fast and choose his friends well if he is to survive the brutal hardships of a sailor's life and its many dangers, both up high in the rigging and in the dark below decks.

Louise navigates her new life among the streets and crooked alleys of Harwich, where groaning houses riddled with smugglers' tunnels are flooded by the spring tides, and love burns brightly in the shadows. Luke, aching for the girl he left behind and determined to one day find his way back to her, embarks on a long and perilous journey across the ocean.

The worlds they find are more dangerous and more exciting than they could ever have imagined, and when they collide the consequences are astonishing and irrevocable.

My Thoughts:

I have mixed feelings on this book. On the one hand, it's an imaginative historical novel full of conflict and danger, with fantastic descriptions of life on an eighteenth-century naval ship, and of life in an eighteenth-century shipping town. On the other hand, I didn't really care for the story. She Rises turned out to be completely different than what I was expecting, and while sometimes that can be a very good thing, in this case, for me, it was not.

In alternating chapters we follow Louise, a poor dairymaid, as she is given a new position as a maid and companion to a wealthy captain's daughter, and Luke, a fifteen-year-old boy who has been forcibly pressed into the navy and struggles to adapt to the tough and dangerous life of a sailor. Louise's chapters are written almost as letters to her mistress, Rebecca, and it is easy to see early on that she has developed a fascination for her, undeserved though it may be. Luke's chapters are written in a more immediate style, and the realistic depiction of the brutal life of a sailor can be tough to read at times, but I appreciated the honest and eye-opening account.

It's very hard to pinpoint in this review what I didn't like about the story without giving anything away, because She Rises does have a few monumental surprises in store for the reader. I can't say that I ever really formed an attachment to Louise, or any of the other characters. At first I was drawn to her and rooting for her success in life, but as the story went on I found myself disliking her single-mindedness and the clinging nature of her personality. Luke is made of somewhat stronger stuff and I was sympathetic to his plight onboard the ship, and I became more interested as the connection between Luke and Louise became clear and I knew who he really was, especially as the alternate storylines finally merged and plunged on toward a conclusion--but that conclusion left much to be desired. It's the type of ending that frustrates me, that leaves me feeling a bit gypped, that has me scratching me head and saying, That's how it ends? That's what I just slogged through 420 pages for?

However, in spite of the fact that the story itself was not my cup of tea, I cannot fault the writing. It's evocative, lyrical, and profound in places, and as I stated before, the description is just fantastic. So that bumps my rating up a notch and allows me to recommend She Rises to anyone in the mood for literary historical fiction that doesn't mind some unusual twists and turns.

My Rating:  3 Stars out of 5

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  1. It's good that you were able to appreciate the author's writing talents even thought he story did not grab you.

  2. Good review! Thank you for sharing.

  3. Great review, Jenny. My thoughts on the book are quite similar to yours. The writing was excellent, but the story itself failed to captivate me.

  4. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this book for the tour.


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