Cassandra is a beautiful young lady bored and restless she longs for adventure. Mary Wilcox is a young woman who has been ground down by society, poverty and men, she is ready for change. Fred and Edmund are privileged young men with the world at their feet. Everyone has their place and everyone has a role to play. But what happens when a young woman decides to play a different role? Inspired by a true story this is the tale of a young woman who turns up at small village in England apparently unable to speak English. Taken in by a local wealthy family who decide that she is an exotic Princess, she is subject to experimentation and media speculation. As the questions come thick and fast how long will it be before the origins of Lady Caraboo will be discovered.
Catherine Johnson's wonderful new book was shortlisted for the YA Book prize although it missed out on the final prize; which went to Sarah Crossan. (The Irish ladies are winning all the prizes recently!) Nonetheless Lady Caraboo is an astonishingly powerful tale that combines gritty storytelling; the opening is stomach churning, with romance, friendship, self discovery and a portrait of Georgian England that you can feel yourself sinking into. There is squalor and splendour in equal measure. This is not an easy read. The treatment of women and of the poor is upsetting and vividly written. I am a huge fan of Catherine Johnson's writing and I highly recommend this book and all her books. Perfect as a companion to Pride and Prejudice or Frankenstein or if you enjoyed Frances Hardinge's The Lie Tree.
Thanks very much to Clare Kelly from Penguin Random House for a review copy.