1908, Manchester. Mary Maitland is an attractive and intelligent young woman determined to strike out on her own and earn a living. Finding work at a women’s employment agency, her creative talent is soon noticed and Mary begins writing articles for newspapers and magazines.
But Mary’s independence and progressive mind are troublesome traits when those she holds dear must constantly live up to the expectations of well-to-do family connections. With increasing pressures from the powers that be, can Mary find the fine line between honouring her family honouring herself?
What did I think?
I was delighted to be invited to review this intriguing novel, and it didn’t disappoint. Set in Edwardian England, The Poor Relation is packed with social commentary as two halves of the same family navigate a very different life. The Kimbers have the title, family seat and social standing. The Maitlands have very little, and work hard for the small luxuries that they can afford. Seen as the poor relations, they also have to ensure that they don’t disappoint the Kimbers and are very much stuck in a situation where their every move may be subject to scrutiny.
I felt that the character introduction at the beginning of the novel was a little forced, and was grateful for the use of the family tree that is printed at the front of the book. Once I had confidently sorted who was who though, I thoroughly enjoyed this story. As it settled into its stride the characters were carefully built up into credible people. Together they navigated the world of women in work, touched on some of the women led demonstrations of the age, and even dealt in part with child custody after marriage, all led by the colourful and brightly ambitious Mary Maitland. Completely believable in her quest to push boundaries and carve out a successful life for herself, Mary is met with a number of challenges through her work, her associations and sometimes just being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical drama.
Purchase Links for The Poor Relation:
UK Amazon hardback
UK Amazon Kindle
UK Amazon paperback
About the author:
Susanna Bavin has variously been a librarian, an infant school teacher, a carer and a cook. She lives in Llandudno in North Wales with her husband and two rescue cats, but her writing is inspired by her Mancunican roots.
N.B. Many thanks to Susanna who gifted me a paperback copy of this book to review as part of the book blog tour, and to Rachel’s Random Resources for organising the tour. All thoughts are my own. For more information, please see my disclosure policy.