I recently had the opportunity to read a couple of novels, both of which made a lasting impression on me.
The first novel – Street Child by Berlie Doherty (published 1993) – tells the story of a boy, Jim Jarvis, who grows up in the slums of London in the 1860s. The story, based on fact, provides thrilling moments of danger for the young protagonist, and presents shrewd insight into the characters and the psychology of greed.
The narrative moves along at a fast pace, eventually culminating in a moving conclusion. I don’t want to spoil the plot by mentioning any well known names – but as I said, the story is based on fact.
The second book – No Way Back by Valerie Wilding – adopts a diary layout and centres on the plight of a ten-year-old girl from London, Mary Wade, who is sentenced to death in 1789 for her part in the theft of a younger girl’s petticoat.
A pardon from King George allows Mary to accept the lesser punishment of banishment to Australia and much of the narrative focuses on the perilous ship journey there, along with the friendships formed.
Again, the author highlights the various characters, as well as presenting keen psychological insight into the various situations, and there are a number of surprises along the way. An extremely moving read. This book, too, focuses on a real person and historical events, with an astonishing outcome.