What if your child was stolen? The tagline of Nicola Cassidy’s debut novel draws the reader in and plays on their emotions immediately. Her book, December Girl, is a historical fiction novel, based in the 1800s in Drogheda. I was lucky enough to receive an advance review copy to take part in the Blog Tour to launch this wonderful book, and have been devouring it over the past few nights. So, what’s the book about, and is it any good?
First things first – who is the author?
Nicola Cassidy is a writer and blogger from Co. Louth. She writes at LadyNicci.com, which is where I first came across her writing. During her maternity leave from her job in political PR and marketing, she started writing December Girl, a historical fiction novel set in her native Louth, inspired by true events. This wasn’t her first foray into writing – Nicola has been writing for pleasure and for competitions since childhood, and has not only pursued a degree in journalism but also studied advanced creative writing at the Irish Writers Centre. Her list of accomplishments in writing was already lengthy before adding this book, including Winning author in OriginalWriting.ie’s 2015 Anthology and more recently Finalist in Wexford Literary Festival One Act Play Competition – a play which she wrote with a very tiny baby AND a toddler in the house.
Alright, she sounds great – what about the book?
Here’s a look at the description of the book:
Molly Thomas is a feisty, independent soul, born on the Winter Solstice. At every stage of her life she has faced troubles. As a young woman her family are evicted from their home at Christmas. Molly swears vengeance on the jealous neighbour and land agent responsible, Flann Montgomery. Then in 1896 her baby son is taken from his pram. Molly searches the streets for Oliver. The police are called but her baby is gone. Why does trouble seem to follow Molly? And will she ever find out what happened to her child?
December Girl is a tale of family bonds, love, revenge and murder.
As you can see from the description, nothing is quite going to be straight forward in this book. What is clear from the very beginning is the skill with which Cassidy writes – her language is so descriptive and beautiful you can’t help but be immersed in the world of the book. There’s a passion in her writing that is clear to see, as we read along with Molly’s account of the day Oliver was taken from his pram. My heart was in my mouth reading along, hoping and praying that she would find her baby – despite knowing that if it was the crux of the book, we probably still had a way to go before we got any answers.
The story is made fuller by not purely coming from a single point of view. The use of multiple voices in telling the tale, and the passage of time, makes it a much more three dimensional world into which you walk with the characters. You feel their anger, their pain, and even at times their flickers of joy. The story encompasses themes of corruption, family loyalties, shame and so much more. I found it unputdownable, which in a life where I’m so easily distracted, is a difficult thing to be.
It’s difficult to write a review without spilling too many secrets, which I feel would deny any reader of the charm of this book. What I can say is that you will feel for Molly, you’ll root for her and take her journey with her. In parts I was feeling proper anxiety, proper sorrow for this girl I felt I knew so well. The writing is superb and made me long for another after I had finished it. Despite not really being a reader of historical fiction up to this point, Nicola Cassidy is definitely on my list of writers I’ll be keeping an eye on in the future.
Okay, So Where Can I Get The Book?
I was very kindly sent a copy of December Girl to review as part of the Blog Book Tour. Make sure to check out the other reviews as listed below. All opinions are my own.
To see other books that I’ve been reading and my thoughts on them, head over here.