“It is not enough to do good; one must do it in the right way” is the quote that opens this beautiful story of young brothers, orphaned in 1893 in Britain, and then shipped to Canada and adopted by a farmer and his wife.
The story of adoption in those times is so often fraught. Broken people that had fallen on hard times signed up for these children for all the wrong reasons – free labour, the small stipend that was paid to them, or merely to inflict more dreadful damage on these waifs and strays. What I didn’t know was that a number of the children so shipped off were not even orphans, and their parents were none the wiser.
It was tragic to see these horrific events through the eyes of the elder brother - Oliver, who feels a tremendous sense of responsibility for the younger Simon, and is often powerless to exercise any semblance of control.
Yet, in the bleak, hostile wintry Canada (which is wonderfully evoked) Lisa Brown manages to find snippets of warm relationships, comforting respite from the harshness, and that inextinguishable element of humanity, hope, triumphs.
This is a well-researched, expertly written (the dialogue is amazing), cleverly plotted novel that will draw you in from its very first page, and have you anxious, weeping, despairing, cheering, shouting, loving and rejoicing.
Lisa Brown, bravo – you did good telling this story, and you did it in the right way.
I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
I haven’t seen it yet in SA bookstores, but it is available on Amazon – the Kindle version is $12.53.
If you enjoyed this, you may also enjoy The Whip by Karen Kondazian, or Two Brothers by Ben Elton