Left an orphan, five-year-old Rosie Harris is found and raised by Maria, a Romany gypsy. Life on the road is hard, but the little girl soon feels one of the tribe with the travellers.
As she grows older, Rosie realises she has 'second sight' and is able to read people's palms and see into their futures. Needing to make a living of her own, she befriends the canal folk, known as the 'cut-rats' traversing the Black Country waterways with their cargo, and so offers readings to anyone who can pay.
Pursued by Jake Harding, a Romany bandolier who wants her for his wife, Rosie instead finds herself falling in love with a married man. And despite growing ominous signs that her future may be cursed, Rosie can't quite break away from the dream of a happily ever after...
Lindsey Hutchinson is a master storyteller, and her Black Country sagas are heart-breaking, uplifting and truly addictive.
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Lovely historical novel
The Girl on the Doorstep by Lindsey Hutchinson is the fifth book in A Black Country Novel series. Rosie Harris is crying on her doorstep in Wednesbury when she is found by Maria Valesco, a Romany gypsy. Rosie’s mother has just passed away and she has no other relatives. Maria takes in Rosie and teaches her the gypsy ways. Thirteen years later, the pair return to Wednesbury for the annual The Gathering. It is the time when the younger generation find their life partner. Rosie does not participate that year much to Jake Harding’s dismay. Rosie is fortunate to make the acquaintance of Margy Mitchell, a cut-rat. When Maria passes away, Rosie needs to find a new home and Margy offers her one aboard their boat. Rosie, who has second sight, traverses the waterways with the Mitchell’s and provides readings to folks to earn a living. When Margy’s son, Bill along with his twin sons leave home to return to his roots, Rosie departs the Mitchell’s boat. She joins Betty on her boat since she can no longer manage on her own and eventually buys that boat. All this time, Jake Harding keeps an eye on Rosie since he is determined to make her his wife. However, Rosie’s heart is taken by another. While Rosie can see the future for others, she cannot see her own. What does the future have in store for Rosie? Return to the Black Country for Rosie’s journey in The Girl on the Doorstep.
The Girl on the Doorstep is an absorbing historical novel (I was up quite late finishing it). Rosie is a friendly main character who possesses the sight. The secondary characters are equally delightful. Margy is quite a character and Sarah, Bill’s wife, is an individual that you will love to hate. I thought the book was well-written and had gentle pacing. It was interesting to find out more about the gypsy lifestyle as well as the “cut-rats”. Before trains and trucks took over transporting goods, items were shipped along the canals in England. Their boats were their whole life. It provided their livelihood as well as a place to live, entertain and raise their family. I like how the “cut-rats” looked out for each other. Life is full of ups and downs as we see in The Girl on the Doorstep which is a story about the working class. I enjoyed the interactions between the characters as well as their can-do spirit, courage, and generous natures. There are good life lessons presented throughout the book and I liked the variety of characters. Lindsey Hutchinson did not disappoint with The Girl on the Doorstep.