Book Review by Bert Gedin

'Love Among the Daughters' by Maureen Osborne

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Quoted from Biblical Solomon, "As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters", the title hints at a feminist approach. But this rich blend of early 19th Century romance, escapades and drama is not unsuitable for either gender.

Settings exchange, from rural England to Russian landscapes, somewhat in yo-yo fashion. From, for example, Ekaterinburg to the Tsarist Siberian 'gulag'. Yet, apart from a Russian holiday, taken during an altering political scenario (in the wake of Boris Pasternak & others), the author has little Russian background. She makes up for this by intense research/studies. Whilst not aspiring to plumbing the depths of the Russian soul, a la Dostoyevski or Tolstoy, her achievement is quite remarkable.

'Love Among the Daughters' by Maureen Osborne

Somewhat irksome - drab chapter headings, e.g. 'Russia 1801', 'England 1802', then (again!) 'Russia 1801' etc. We can overlook this, in a fascinating story with numerous British-Russian links, historical and others, with personalities full of character. An aptly named dwelling, 'Starcross House' had seen some sad, starcrossed, lovers. It seemed 'haunted' by several, less than pleasant, persons, a Baba Yarish, witch-like Mistress Wardell or young Edgar, who, incestuously, rapes his own sister, Julie, one of the story's heroines. As for the'll have to read about it, yourselves! Despite, frequently, a pervading sinister and menacing mood, the prevailing forces of light and goodness are not inactive!

Maureen Osborne, accomplished author, playwright & teacher, as well as professional speaker, has also written, extensively, for the BBC, including a play about Lenin. To her, Russia is "beautiful, mysterious and vast". Her sense of nocturnal mystery is reflected, possibly, in having written 'Daughters' mostly at night. Little surprise that her publishing firm, nowadays, is called 'Night Owl Press'.

Did I enjoy Maureen's 'tale of cruelty and courage'? In answer, I'm already, eagerly queuing up for the promised sequel - covering 'Part II' of the 19th Century. But that, as they say, will be another story!

'Love Among the Daughters' by Maureen Osborne is available from The Night Owl Press,
5 Birchwood Road, West Byfleet, Surrey, KT14 6DW. Tel: 01932 345419. Price £6.99 plus £1.50 postage and packing.

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