Brothers at Arms by Jemima Brigges

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Brothers at Arms by Jemima Brigges

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Category: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Louise Jones
Reviewed by Louise Jones
Summary: When a kindly landowner decides to take in two orphaned relatives, he unwittingly sets off a dark chain of events that threaten to destroy his family.
Buy? yes Borrow? yes
Pages: 408 Date: August 2015
Publisher: Troubador
ISBN: 9781784624453

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Certain decisions are pivotal points in time; key moments that define everything that follows and create waves that ripple with repercussions for years to come. Kindly squire Tom Norberry could never have foreseen the impact that taking in two orphaned relatives would have on his future happiness. This single, altruistic act of kindness would set in motion a chain of events that would eventually cause a deep household rift and threaten to sully the good family name that he had worked to hard to uphold.

Reputation is everything to Norberry. A successful politician and landowner, he has managed to maintain a façade of respectability whilst concealing his dark family secrets from public knowledge. Forced to marry his lover's spiteful older sister and claim her bastard children as his own, his estate at Linmore is a virtual battle zone, with an opium-addicted heir seeking out every opportunity to murder his younger brother Joshua at his mother's behest.

The arrival of orphans Charlie and Sophie initially brings much joy to lonely Joshua's life and the three children form an inseparable bond. However, as time goes by, Joshua becomes increasingly disturbed by Sophie's wild behaviour and her almost preternatural demeanour. Charlie is oblivious to his sister's faults, even when her actions become increasingly erratic and improper. When Charlie and Joshua are sent away on a tour of Europe, Sophie is left behind to run wild on the Linmore estate, causing trouble wherever she goes. Her unhealthy obsession with Joshua leads to a dramatic turn of events that strikes at the very core of the family with devastating results.

One thing I admired about this book was the immaculate attention to detail and thorough research that brought his period in history to life. The story is set at the turn of the nineteenth century and the author details every aspect of life from farming methods to housing and clothing. This really adds depth and colour to the story and gives it a feeling of authenticity.

The characters were well-drawn and designed to evoke a powerful response in the reader. The protagonist Joshua, is a gentle and kind soul like his father and serves as a strong contrast to the wild, untamed Sophie, his murderous older brother Matthew and insensitive mother Kate. Sophie is a memorable character and has a very unsettling presence that sends chills up the spine. I loved the way that she alternated between an untameable wild-child and a butter-wouldn't-melt doting niece when in the presence of Tom. She was completely unpredictable, which made her all the more compelling to read about.

There were definite hints of Bronte in the narrative, much to my delight. Tom's unhappy marriage is similar to that of Mr Rochester in Jane Eyre and the surly Kate keeps herself separate from the rest of the family in her own wing of the house. Sophie, with her feral ways, could have come straight from the pages of Wuthering Heights. Fans of classic fiction will feel instantly at home within the pages of this book. Many thanks to the publishers for my review copy.

We also gave four stars to Counting the Cost by Jemima Brigges,

Those who enjoy reading about this period in history should try Gates of Paradise by Beryl Kingston, the story of poet William Blake with well-researched details that bring history to life.

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Buy Brothers at Arms by Jemima Brigges at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Brothers at Arms by Jemima Brigges at


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