Today I am turning over my Blog to Penny Dame Buxton so that she can share her review of MARTHA’S SECRETS by Joanna Larum. This is a new release in the Historical Fiction genre and is an unputdownably stunning read.
Martha’s Secrets by Joanna Larum
Available from Amazon
Edith Coleman’s two illegitimate children (Daniel and Martha) spent their childhood working like slaves alongside their mother in the family laundry business in South Bank, a small town near Middlesbrough in the North Riding of Yorkshire They were regularly beaten and starved but their mother never found the courage to stand up for her children against her parents, Grandad Joshua and Granny Lillian. It was only when Daniel was eight years old that he was finally allowed to go to school to make the best use of his intelligence and Martha followed him a couple of years later.
Daniel’s birth was as the result of a night-time fling in a back alley, but Martha was the result of Edith’s rape by her own father and so she inherited a double portion of her father/grandfather’s wicked character. Both of Edith’s children survived this childhood with the ambition to better themselves and Daniel started a carting business while Martha renovates furniture in the second-hand shop Daniel founded.
In ‘Martha’s Secrets’, Daniel and Martha are now both grown up and the dreaded grandparents have died, leaving the small family to finally begin living a reasonable life. Edith has married a man she had long adored from afar, gaining a step-daughter and a home of her own. Daniel and Martha still live in York Street but the laundry is no longer used. Life should now be happy for them all, but World War 1 has begun and Daniel fears being conscripted into the Army. He has acquired a ‘son’ in the foundling Georgie who is so grateful for his new home away from the workhouse that he would do anything to protect Daniel, even if that means denouncing Daniel’s sister for her wicked ways. But Daniel and Edith don’t want to see the character flaws in Martha, until blackmail, theft and murder rear their ugly heads and the blame can only be laid at Martha’s door.
Can Georgie and his new ally, Dolly, prove their suspicions about Martha? And will Martha consent to changing her character and lifestyle to fit in with her family or will she follow her own road to perdition?
Review by Penny Dame Buxton
Given that I find it very hard to pick up a book and read it to the end, this had me on a continuous read from the first page through to the end, the characters are very well developed and although this is a sequel it catches the reader up very quickly on the key events of the previous book.
Been set at the time of the first world war it allows the reader to see into the world of what war did to the men involved, and through the main character Daniel the fear some men had of been enlisted.
The character of Daniel’s sister Martha I found developed very cleverly as she comes across as the sweet, pretty faced girl that behind the face is manipulative and always thinking of her next scheme to cause pain to others. I enjoyed seeing the story unfold of what Martha would do next.
With the introduction of the character Georgie whom Daniel rescues from the workhouse and takes on as his apprentice in his business, I quickly became attached to as a character and you see he does his best to take away the worries Daniel has of been enlisted for the war. It is through Georgie’s character you hear the back story of Daniel, his mother Edith and Martha as he asks Daniel of his past which you read in the first book.
On the whole this is a great read, it highlights the issues of war at the time and I personally found it a very gripping read, the main characters are easy to connect to and it leaves me with a need of wanting to read more well after the ending! a big thumbs up from me!
I only went to school to learn to read. At age 6, I decided I COULD read and promptly left, by the school gate, the same gate which my mother marched me back through 10 minutes later. So I had to spend the next 12 years at school, learning lots of different things, none of which lived up to the excitement of reading. Wanting to be a writer was a natural progression, because there is nothing as exciting as inventing the story yourself. But it’s taken over 50 years before I dared to present my stories for other people to read. So, here they are! I’ll just creep behind the sofa.