Review: The Orphan’s Daughter by Sandy Taylor

Orphan's DuaghterIreland, 1924. For thirteen-year-old Nora Doyle every day is a fight for survival. In the rural Irish village she calls home, she is no stranger to funerals or feeling the cold wind blowing through the windows of the small cottage where she lives with her family. Somehow Nora manages to keep smiling, but she longs to escape the poverty surrounding her.

One day, Nora’s life changes when her sense of adventure leads her and her best friend, Kitty, through a hole in the wall of the huge house on the top of the hill. In the secluded, carefully tended garden they discover on the other side, Nora and Kitty meet Edward, the young boy who lives there, and they instantly form a strong bond.

Soon Nora is spending every moment she can spare in the secret garden. But in escaping from her life in the village, Nora is going against the wishes of her family, who have forbidden any contact with the big house. Because Edward holds the key to a family secret that will change Nora’s life forever, and force her to make an impossible choice between her family and her future…

Review

I have always enjoyed Historical Fiction by Sandy Taylor and this wasn’t an exception. The Orphan’s Daughter is what I’d describe as a quiet story. Reading it transported me to Ireland and into the life of Nora Doyle. Hers wasn’t a fast, overly exciting life but it was beautiful and interesting in its simplicity.

Sandy Taylor writes beautifully. Nora and her best friend Kitty had me smiling almost throughout the book. The story is so descriptive that it fully transported me into their lives. I could picture them sitting on the wall watching funerals, sitting by the fires, dipping their fingers in the holy water. I love good, descriptive writing and the imagery in this one was wonderfully done.

This story tackles a number of themes including love, family and friendship. It is quite emotive and had many moments of highs and lows. I laughed with Nora through her highs and felt her sadness through her low moments. I think the author did a brilliant job in creating a character that is so easily likable and easy to sympathize with.

The Orphan’s Daughter was everything that I thought it would be. Beautifully written, poignant, riveting and quite memorable. Definitely recommended to all fans of this genre.

Review: The Little Orphan Girl by Sandy Taylor

The Little Orphan GirlIreland, 1901: For as long as six-year-old Cissy Ryan can remember, she has been a workhouse girl. Living amongst the other orphan boys and girls, dreaming of a family that might come and choose her for their own.

But the day her real mammy finally comes to claim her is not how Cissy imagined. An unfamiliar woman takes her to a tumbledown cottage in the rural Irish countryside to meet her gruff granddaddy. Settling into the isolated and poverty-stricken village is tough. But Cissy’s blossoming friendship with Colm Doyle and his horse Blue show Cissy the kindness and laughter is possible, even in the hardest of times.

As Cissy grows up, she finds that the world around her is ever changing. When she goes to work at prestigious Bretton Hall, she begins to realise that not everyone has an honest heart…

In one moment, Cissy’s life is turned upside down and she finds herself on a boat to England, sailing away from all she holds dear. Will Cissy ever find her way back to Ireland and everything she knows? Or is there more heartbreak to come?

Review

Sandy Taylor’s books give me the feels! Honestly, I knew that this book was going to make me cry and that I would love it even before I read it. This author just keeps coming up with the most beautiful, heart wrenching stories. Now I want to move to rural Ireland and find a nice Irish guy with a horse! Okay, not really but seriously though, I loved this story.

Little Cissy has always known that she is an orphan. However, she suddenly finds herself with a quiet mommy and a grumpy granddad who doesn’t really want her around. As Cissy gets to know the two, her life begins to change. Soon afterwards, she meets the friendly Colm Doyle and his lovely horse, Blue. Cissy’s life later takes a dramatic turn when she starts working at Bretton Hall and meets ‘the honorables’. She is introduced to a different kind of life with people very different from those previously in her life.

This is the kind of story that spans over a number of years. It begins with Cissy as a little girl and takes readers through her life to her teens and beyond. I loved this character! She was so nice though a little naive but I really wanted everything to turn out well for her. As a little girl, Cissy was so adorable and as she grew, the adversities in her life made her even more likeable. I can’t think of a single character that I didn’t like in this story, well apart from the obvious villains.

Apart from the charming characters, the setting is also wonderful. I liked the rural Irish town where Cissy was raised. The neighbors, even the nosy ones were all interesting. The class divide added some angst to the story and contributed to the twists.

I didn’t want this story to end and even after it did, I felt like hugging the book and just keeping the characters with me. I know, I know, hugging books is a bit out there but this one is seriously huggable. I have no doubt that the characters will stay with me, especially Cissy.

What a beautiful, poignant story about love, friendship and family!

The Runaway Children by Sandy Taylor

RunawayLondon, 1942: Thirteen-year-old Nell and five-year-old Olive are being sent away from home to escape the devastation of the East End during the Blitz. Leaving behind their beloved mother and brothers, they don’t know if they will ever see them again.

As the sisters adjust to their new life in a close-knit Welsh village, they gradually find hope in the friendships they make. And Nell kindles a special bond with fellow evacuee Jimmy, who makes her smile even at the hardest of times.

But when little Olive’s safety is threatened, Nell makes a decision that will change their lives forever. They must run from danger and find their way home…

Together, through tears and laughter, the two sisters hold each other’s hands as they make an incredibly brave journey across war-torn England. Will they be reunited with the family they have missed for so many years? Or is there more heartache to come?

Review

The Runaway Children by Sandy Taylor is a beautiful, moving story set in 1942 during the war. At the heart of the story are two young girls, Nell and Olive. The sisters were evacuees sent away from London to the countryside to keep them safe from the war. I fell in love with these two characters right from the first chapter. Nell is a sweet, strong young girl who I enjoyed getting to know through the chapters. I also loved how she was protective over her little sister. Just thinking of Olive right now brings tears to my eyes. I just love that little girl with all her quirkiness. I enjoyed reading about her and she made me smile a lot despite the fact that this wasn’t a light read.

This is a story about love and family in the time of war. Taylor took me through an emotional roller-coaster as I read about the two girls. I loved the imagery used in this book as it made me feel like I was right there in 1943 with the girls. You know how some authors can paint a picture using words? Yeah, that is definitely Taylor.  I also enjoyed the character development. There are many wonderful characters that were well crafted in their roles that they impacted on the story even if they played minor roles. Apart from family, I loved the other dominant theme in the narrative, which was friendship. This was brilliantly portrayed between different characters. I loved how even the most unlikely people formed beautiful bonds throughout the story.

The Runaway Children by Sandy Taylor is quite an emotional, addictive read that I am certain will stay with me for a long time. Sandy’s writing is flawless. She has the ability to make readers forget everything else but the story. That is definitely what happened to me. For hours, I was completely lost in the world that she created. I shared in the joy and sadness of the characters. This book had me smiling then crying and sometimes doing both at the same time. I totally adore this story and can’t read more books from this amazing author. Honestly, if you haven’t yet discovered Sandy Taylor’s books then you are definitely missing out on a great reading experience.

Ps: The first book that I read by Sandy Taylor was When We Danced at the End of the Pier which I reviewed here.  This was yet another beautiful, emotional read that I highly recommend.

The Runaway Children - Blog Tour

When We Danced at the End of the Pier by Sandy Taylor

when-dancedAbout the Book

Brighton 1930: Maureen O’Connell is a carefree girl, but her family is on the brink of tragedy, war is looming and life will never be the same again. 

Jack and Nelson have always been dear friends to Maureen. Despite their different backgrounds, they’ve seen each other through thick and thin. 

As Maureen blossoms from a little girl into a young woman, the candle she’s always held for Jack burns bright. But just as she’s found love, war wrenches them apart.

When the bombs start to fall, Maureen and her family find themselves living in the most dangerous of times. Can she look to a brighter future? And will she find the true happiness she’s dreamt of? 

Review

I read this book last weekend and haven’t stopped thinking about it. Without a doubt, this is my favorite book so far this year and I just know that it will remain in my list of favorites for all-time.

When we Danced at the End of the Pier by Sandy Taylor begins with Maureen and Brenda moving into a new home with their mum and dad. I was immediately drawn to this family and especially little Brenda. She used to say the most random yet beautiful things. It took a while for me to realize that something wasn’t quite right with some members of the family. Nevertheless, I really liked this family. The story had me hooked from the first page. I think that I was already crying by the third chapter.

Maureen met Jack after this move. She was still quite young but she fell in love from that moment. Through Jack, we got to meet Nelson who stole my own heart. I really liked this boy. He was in the background most of the time but was still a key part of the story. I liked his gentle spirit and just wanted things to work out for him. This kid both broke and warmed my heart. The last person to join this group of friends was Monica. A feisty little girl.

The story takes us through the MCs childhood years all through to their adulthood. The author narrates the story in a way that makes you feel like you really know the MCs. Maureen, Brenda, Nelson, Jack and Monica felt familiar and I liked seeing them go through life through the years. Characterization in this book is so strong that even the support characters stood out. For instance, Peter and Mrs. Bentley only feature in a number of chapters but they are part of the story throughout. I felt like I knew each one of the characters in the mood. I grew attached to them and my heart broke when each one of them went through a difficult time.

The writing of this book is beautiful, poignant and flawless. I can’t remember the last time a book made me cry so much. Not just at the end but I cried thrice while reading this book. The imagery was so good that I could visualize the characters and the setting. I loved the description of the sea and the small towns and when they danced at the end of the pier, I was just right there with them.

When we Danced at the End of the Pier by Sandy Taylor reminded me of my favorite book, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. The setting and time period had a number of similarities. Both books gave me characters that I still think of. Characters who I grew attached to. Characters whose stories broke my heart and made me cry. Part of the story was set in Ireland and I found myself thinking of Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt. However, although the book reminded me of my favourite books, it was unique in its own ways. The writing and characterization made it different and the story was one of the most beautiful ones that I have ever read.

I have found a new favorite book. This is a book that I will not stop recommending to everyone. It is the most beautiful, heart-breaking story that I have read in a while and I want everyone to read it.