The Girl with the Silver Clasp by Juliet Greenwood: A moving, inspirational tale about the healing power of friendship - book review -
Three young women are determined to defy convention in the aftermath of the dark days of the First World War… but will they find the courage to follow their dreams?
Lancaster University graduate and historical novelist Juliet Greenwood sweeps us away to beautiful Cornwall and bustling London for a lyrical and lovely tale of ambition, heartache, love and loss starring three charismatic women from different backgrounds.
Born into the very different social classes of England in the early part of the century, their paths cross as they share a desire to defy all expectations, and forge their own destinies in a rapidly changing world.
It’s 1916 and17-year-old Jess Morgan is working at the forge in the Cornish coastal village near St Ives where she lives with her widowed harbourmaster father. With her nimble fingers, sharp eyes and clever brain, she had always hoped to become a celebrated silversmith but as a girl, she is expected to marry, have babies and keep the menfolk happy.
All she can do is cling on to her dreams and the memory of a delicate, unique silver clasp that she once created for a society bride.
Meanwhile, Rachel Bellamy from Enys Hall, the mansion that owns and overlooks the harbour, is frustrated that she is seen as nothing more than ‘a feeble do-gooder’ seeking only to secure a husband to keep her in unthinking comfort for the rest of her life.
Instead, Rachel volunteers as an ambulance driver on the front line in France but on return, finds a very different world to the one she left and it will be up to her to save the family home and picturesque harbour from her wealthy brother-in-law before it’s too late.
And also contemplating her future is Giselle Harding who fought her way up from poverty to become a Hollywood movie star. She is discovering that even the most beautiful jewels she owns will never replace the man she lost.
As the lives of the three women collide, will they be able to overcome their differences and fight together for the dreams they once held so close?
From a small coastal village near St Ives to the battlefields of France and the glitz and glamour of London in the Twenties, this is an enthralling and enchanting story full of brave and talented women, and rich, authentic period detail.
Greenwood excels at scene setting and characterisation, and The Girl with the Silver Clasp delivers not just a moving, inspirational tale about the healing power of friendship but a fascinating exploration of the burgeoning artistic community springing up in post-war St Ives and the intricate skill of fashioning enamelled jewellery.
Beautifully written, expertly plotted and with a breathtaking sense of time and place, this is the perfect read for long and lazy summer days.
(Orion, paperback, £8.99)