Clockmender Hannah Croft’s friend Molly has been arrested for her connections to a Jacobin Club and finds herself in gaol. Hannah’s last hope of helping her friend lies in the hands of the housemaid, Lucy Boone.
Lucy has spent her whole life moving from household to household, not forming many attachments. Life is much easier having only yourself to rely on as saves time and heartache. But when Hannah Croft asks for her help, Lucy cannot say no.
As they work together to free Molly, they do not hide their growing attraction. For Hannah, Lucy is a light in the dark during this difficult time. Lucy is loving her new job and life, especially Hannah and her welcoming group of friends.
Their situation is fraught with danger as rumors fly about an informant in their midst and a man from the magistrate’s office dogs Lucy’s steps. One wrong move could land them in gaol or worse, ruin their relationship before it even begins.
Pros And My Favourite Parts
Hannah’s best friend and business partner, Molly, is arrested in a raid. At the wrong place at the wrong time, Molly is accused of treasonous dealings and Hannah will do anything to help her. She asks an acquaintance, Lucy Boone to speak to the magistrate on Molly’s behalf, which Lucy agrees to do. Unfortunately, without Molly, their clock-mending business closes and Hannah finds work and board elsewhere. She’s smitten with Lucy and the more time they spend together, the deeper her feelings become.
Lucy finds herself out of a job when her employer is found guilty and sentenced for treason. She travels to the next town and instead of taking a job as a housemaid, she becomes a dance instructor’s assistant, and to help make ends meet, she deconstructs lace on the side. For once she has free time to think about what she truly wants. She begins to take reading lessons from her employer, Mr. Raeburn as well as fiddle lessons. In turn, she helps him become a better businessman all the while falling further for her new friend, Hannah.
The author does an excellent job setting and further developing the scene of 1790’s Britain which was a time fraught with conspiracy theories and hyper suspicion. The reading group that Hannah and (later) Lucy are a part of struggles to not make waves with authorities. The book, Florinda, that Hannah reads to the group week after week is engaging and entertaining. Being part of the group members’ discussions about their thoughts, inferences, and realizations is interesting. The emphasis on the enjoyment of reading, borrowing books, and discussions surrounding them are an essential part of this novel as is the friendship and community surrounding the group.
Both our heroines are likable working-class women who must navigate contentious waters in order to be together. Their story is really sweet and I found myself rooting for them from the start. The supporting characters of Hannah’s friends, Lucy’s boss, and the reading group members add depth to the story. The added element of who the traitor is in their midst is added a bit of suspense toward the end.
Cons And Heads Up
The characterization of both Lucy and Hannah is a bit light. I would have liked to get to know each of them on a deeper level. The author built the world around them but didn’t give a lot of insight into who they both were deep down.
Sixpenny Octavo by Annick Trent is a sweet historical romance set in 1790s Britain. The story moves quickly and is filled with wonderful main characters and charming supporting characters. The importance of friendship, trust, and community are woven throughout this low-angst novel.
Excerpt from Sixpenny Octavo by Annick Trent
“I must beg your help,” Miss Croft blurted out. “My friend Molly Painter—she’s in gaol. She was caught up in the arrest of a Jacobin club in Southwark.”
Lucy stared, taken aback. “I didn’t realise…”
“She was in the wrong place at the wrong time, that’s all,” Miss Croft said quickly. “She and I were members of a penny reading club that met in the same tavern as the Jacobins.”
“I’m sorry to hear about Miss Painter,” Lucy said cautiously. And she was genuinely sorry. “But I don’t see what that has to do with me.”
“Most of the people arrested at the same time have already been released. But she’s still in gaol because she’s known to have links to William Oldham. Her name is in his account books. If you could testify that she never associated with him politically—that she called to his house purely on business—”
Lucy hesitated. Her instinctive reaction was to fear getting involved. “I suppose, but—”
“Please. I beg you. It could make a world of difference.”
Hannah Croft had always been something of an enigma to Lucy. The few scraps of information that Lucy had about her came via Molly Painter: that they’d had their own workshop together, somewhere near Greenwich Docks, for the past six years; that in addition to their repair work, they also wound the clocks of many of Greenwich’s wealthier inhabitants; that they’d repaired the clockface on St Alban’s Tower two years earlier, and Miss Croft had climbed up the scaffolding herself.
The first time Lucy had seen Hannah Croft, she had been in Oldham’s workshop, sweeping the sawdust that littered the floor and humming to herself. She had looked up to find an unknown woman standing in the doorway, one hand on the doorframe and her gaze on Lucy. Their eyes had met, and the woman, to Lucy’s surprise and fascination, had blushed, colour creeping slowly up into her sallow cheeks.
Curiosity stirred in Lucy’s breast under the intensity of that gaze. She smiled at the woman, who cleared her throat and asked for Mr Oldham. Intrigued, Lucy had thought—hoped—that there was some significance to that moment. But it seemed she had been wrong. Her subsequent attempts to engage Hannah Croft in conversation had never met with success. In their half-dozen subsequent meetings, Miss Croft had seemed cool and colourless, and—unlike Molly Painter—she never stayed to chat.
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The Old Bridge Inn Series
Beck and Call
Bits and Bobs
ISBN number: 9781005294656
Publisher: Indie Author
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