The daughter mentioned in the title of A Daughter’s Hope by Margaret Kaine is Megan Cresswell, strictly-raised, religious, sheltered, young, dowdy. Set in the post-WW2 Potteries district around Stoke-on-Trent still suffering from continued wartime poverty and hardship, Megan is free after the death of her mother to make her own way in life. But the harsh reality of being an adult and enduring a hand-to-mouth existence soon makes her realise she must she find a husband to survive.
Ever the realist, pragmatic Megan allows her friends to give her a makeover of hair, clothes and make up, before setting off to visit nearby churches on Sundays in search of a suitable husband. Along the way, Megan meets new friends and learns things about herself. As she explores the real world, she wonders why her strict father trapped her in such a narrow world and why her mother didn’t protest on her daughter’s behalf. And she begins to question whether finding a husband is her only option. As she explores beyond the geographical and social bubble in which she was raised, Megan begins to question her place in the world and to confront the puzzles of her childhood.
Romance is not my normal genre – and there is a handsome love interest who looks set to break Megan’s heart – but this book is so much more. Kaine’s portrayal of her native Potteries comes alive off the page. It is not often that a novel is set in an industrial setting; it reminded me of The House at Silvermoor by Tracy Rees which is set in a South Yorkshire coal mining village. Kaine’s description of the hand painting at the potbank, and the production methods, is a fascinating insight into pottery manufacturing in the Fifties. Kaine is a skilled portrayer of character; I particularly enjoyed Megan’s fellow workers on the potbank and the household dynamics of Celia Bevington, who becomes something of a fairy godmother.
This is the first novel by Margaret Kaine that I have read and I will seek out more.
A Daughter’s Hope was previously published as Song for a Butterfly.
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