1840, Annie and her husband Jake go on the run after she make a rash decision. They find work but tragedy ensues. 1846, James Earlham, a railway engineer, meets widow Bella Farrow as he tries to persuade her to sell some of her land for the railways. Both are harbouring secrets: can their romance survive?
The Widow’s Last Secret is an historical novel set in England during the 1840s. It centres around the building of the first railways.
Annie and Jake are a love match, happy but poor. A foolish and split second choice leads them both to abandon their peaceful life. They endure even more hardship but still have each other. Moving forward 6 years and Annie has reinvented herself as Bella, a respectable widow but mistrusted by the local community. Railway engineer James needs to save his career by getting his company a great deal on land purchases for the railway, but his heart is captured by Widow Farrow.
I was utterly absorbed by this book. The characters are written in such a way that they are portrayed sympathetically even if we don’t agree with their choices and actions. Annie/Bella and James are both easy to like even though they behave impulsively with devastating consequences. The unfairness of external actions by others, societal norms such as class, and social rejection all serve to make us readers want them to succeed and find happiness despite the odds.
I think the events are described in a personal way which allows us to be swept up in the story. There is plenty of emotion as the plot unfolds. The final few chapters were wonderfully dramatic and I had no idea how the plot strands would resolve (but they did and I was completely satisfied by the ending!)
The Widow’s Last Secret was an absolutely captivating novel and I loved it!
The Widow’s Last Secret: Totally gripping and emotional historical fiction by Lora Davies
Victorian England, 1846: A gripping and powerful story about one woman’s incredible courage in the face of heartbreak, and a secret that – if revealed – could destroy everything.
Six years ago, Bella Farrow lost everything. Desperate and starving, she made a terrible mistake that forced her to abandon her home, her livelihood and her family. And when the only person she trusted – her beloved, steadfast husband – was killed in a tragic accident, Bella was left alone. She had to make her own way, while keeping her past hidden upon risk of imprisonment, or worse…
Now Bella is living a quiet life under a secret identity and making a good, honest living. But then a young, handsome man named James Earlham comes to town, and everything changes. Their instant connection disturbs her heart, her peace and her safety. Because Bella knows that for their love to flourish, she will have to reveal the secret that has remained hidden all these years – and put her trust in James.
Bella’s heart tells her to confess everything. But can she be sure James is really who he says he is? Can Bella truly be herself with him? Or is she putting her life in the hands of the one person who could betray her?
A page-turning novel about secrets, mistaken trust and the impossibility of hiding from your past, The Widow’s Last Secret is a must-read for fans of Kerry Barrett, Kate Morton and Tracy Rees.
For as long as I can remember, I have been happiest with a book in my hands. From hiding under the covers with a torch as a small child so that I could stay up reading, to studying English at university so that I could get my hands on even more books – I guess it was only a matter of time before I went from reading books to writing them. It wasn’t a straightforward path; my passion for gripping plots and rounded characters led me first to work as an actor and theatre director, but after a Creative Writing course at my local bookshop, I was hooked. After completing a Masters at Royal Holloway, University of London, I finished my first novel, Daughter of the Shipwreck. I live in Brighton where I get inspiration from the incredibly rich history of the city and the inspiring and beautiful natural environment.