Monday, 25 August 2014

Book Review: Hearts of Gold #1 - Catrin Collier

SynopsisTrainee midwife Bethan Powell lives in the shadow of the workhouse during the Depression. It's difficult to say which is harder for her and fellow nurse Laura Ronconi--their gruelling work in the hospital, or the frictions and financial hardships at home. Bethan's Communist miner father, rigidly Chapel mother, unruly brothers, and delightful but dubiously honest aunt, and Laura's vast Italian cafe-running family, cause the girls as much worry as any difficult case or strict ward sister. But working-class Pontypridd agrees on one thing--the "crache," or gentry, who live in the big houses on the Common, may be just the other side of town, but they inhabit a different world. So when Bethan and Laura are smitten by two young doctors, can love really bridge the divide? Or is the pull of family too strong, the gulf too wide?  (Taken from Goodreads)

Review -  Hearts of Gold #1 is the first book in the Hearts of Gold series.  It was first published in 1992 by Century.  I obtained this book on Kindle from Amazon.  You may wonder why I am reviewing a book that has been around for over 20 years.  Catrin Collier is a Welsh author and as an inhabitant of Wales I feel a sense of loyalty in spreading the word.  I have to say I was surprised when a fellow blogger informed me that she had read another title from this author.  I certainly had not come across Ms Collier's work before.  Enough background, let's get onto the review itself.

This book sets the scene for the Powell family and their friends and relatives in the Graig, on the poor side of the Common in Pontypridd.  The story is well written with fiction woven around the social history of the time.  Valley communities were tight and would stick together but despite the community mindedness there was also the small minded, nosey neighbour attitudes and the shame from any scandal that threatened to shake a family's values to the core.  This book is set in the 1930's right in the heart of the depression and the families depicted are struggling to survive.  The story centres on Bethan the eldest daughter of Evan and Elizabeth Powell.  Bethan is a nurse and a major contributor to the household, helping to keep the family from total poverty.  Her brothers Haydn and Eddie are struggling to find decent and steady jobs and the youngest Maud is still at school.  When Bethan meets the younger Dr John her life looks as if it may change for the better and to keep up with Andrew John, from the "crache" she has to dress the part.  

The story runs along comfortably and just as I wondered where it was going it twisted and turned keeping me on my toes.  I did find the story predictable in parts but even so, that did not detract from the interesting subject matter or my enjoyment of the story.  

There are 8 books in the series, the next titled One Blue Moon.  I shall look out for this book later on.  4* 

Kindle edition: ASIN: B00DI9VSB0
Paperback: ISBN-13: 978-1909840775

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