September 2011, Doubleday
412 pages, Hardback
Themes: life in service, cruelty in institutions, wonderful opportunities, stern but caring people, learning valuable skills, apple pie, theives, tragedy, illness in a time without medical advancements, laughter, extreme optimism & daydreaming, a mermaid saving a life, touching sentimental moments, some great peril, lotw of humour, a great many tissues needed
Summary from Random House Children's Publishers
A fascinating, funny and moving Victorian-era novel featuring Hetty Feather.
Hetty Feather is a Foundling Hospital girl and was given her name when she was left there as a baby by her mother. But she always longed to be called Sapphire, after her sapphire-blue eyes. When she is reunited with her mother, she hopes her new name, Sapphire Battersea, will also mean a new life! But life doesn't always go as planned...
Follow the twists and turns of Hetty's adventure as she goes out to work as a maid for a wealthy man. She longs to be reunited with her childhood sweetheart Jem - but also finds a new sweetheart, Bertie the butcher's boy, who whisks her away from her household chores to experience the delights of the funfair!
But Hetty's life may also take a darker path. Can she cope with the trials ahead?
As I finished the book I was really sad to leave Hetty like that. She has such an idealistic view of life I either laughed at her ideas or cried at her naievity. Her exhuberance has to be commended, she is true to her heart and refuses to be done over by anyone. That's what made the book so sad.
What happens to her is tough, but it does make her stronger and resourceful. Occassionally the stoey dragged for me, but that was mostly superceded by the truly unexpected kind heartedness of people she meets. I hope that all people who were/are in Hetty's shoes get the kindness in life they deserve. You won't be disappointed with this 9/10 read.
You can find out more on Jacqueline's website.
A book with a similar feel is Philip Pullman's The Adventures of the New Cut Gang