Published by Shadow Mountain on March 6th 2018
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
When Evangeline is sent to live in a small mill town in Northern England as a schoolteacher in 1871, she finds herself struggling to fit in with an unfamiliar culture. Raised with the high-class Victorian values and ideals of a sophisticated upbringing, she is unprepared for the poverty she finds in the gritty factory town of Smeatley, where the locals speak with a hard-to-understand Yorkshire accent and struggle to thrive with few resources or opportunities.
Though she has no training as a teacher, she must prove herself successful before her grandfather will release her substantial inheritance to her and allow her to be reunited with her younger sister, the last remaining member of her family after a fever claimed the lives of her parents and brothers.
Evangeline's sudden change in circumstances is complicated when her aunt—a woman who values class distinctions more than her family relationships—forbids her from acknowledging any connection to her or to her grandfather, Mr. Farr—the man who owns nearly the entire town. For the first time in her life, Evangeline is truly alone.
Heartbroken, she turns to the one person in town who has shown her kindness—an Irish brick mason, Dermot, and his son, Ronan. Despite the difference in their classes and backgrounds, Evangeline and Dermot become friends, due in part to her ability to connect with Ronan, whose behavior requires special attention. The boy is uncomfortable around strangers and rarely even speaks to the other children in town. He often fixates on details other people ignore, and he adheres to specific, self-made rules that give his life order and structure; for example, Dermot's coat must be hung on a specific peg next to the door.
Evangeline attempts to prove herself a worthy teacher and earn the respect of her hard-to-understand students. Determined to find a way to introduce them to "proper English" while still honoring their unique language and culture, she enlists the help of a local family to write down familiar stories in the Yorkshire vernacular. Because of her efforts, the students and their families warm to Evangeline and she continues to look for ways to give the children a chance to become more than factory workers in the local cotton mill.
When the town learns of her upper-class status, Evangeline must work twice as hard to win back their trust--especially Dermot's. In the end, Evangeline and Dermot discover that, even though they come from different social spheres, together they can overcome social prejudices, make a positive difference in the lives of even the humblest people, and enjoy the strength that comes when two hearts find each other.
Ashes on the Moor is the inspiring love story of one Victorian woman's courage to fight against all odds, and the man whose quiet strength gives her the confidence to keep trying.
~~Reviewed by AnnMarie~~
Ashes on the Moor is a standalone novel by Sarah M. Eden.
Evangeline loses her mother, father and two of her siblings to disease, leaving just her and her youngest sister, Lucy, living. They had lived a comfortable life in a beautiful home, but being females their home goes to a distant relative and the girls have to go to their aunt and uncle’s home. It was painful enough to be uprooted from their home during their grief, but what their aunt has in mind for them will either make or break them.
Lucy is sent to her grandfather’s and then onto a school for young ladies, and Evangeline is told that she is to be the town teacher. She has no training to be a teacher, and has no money of her own and is thrown into the job. The school and her living quarters are practically derelict, with no supplies at all, not even a sweeping brush. Her rich aunt and uncle don’t even want her to tell the towns’ people that she is related to them, and she is, for the first time in her life, without family, without friends and without money.
Dermot is an Irish brick-layer living in the town with his son Ronan. He pretty much keeps himself to his self because the English don’t like the Irish. He is tasked with taking Evangeline to the school. First impressions between them aren’t very good. He is sullen, and she is grieving and he thinks she looks down on him.
What follows is watching how those first impressions change. Dermot becomes her lifeline, a much-needed one while she battles all the changes in her life. She has to teach children who speak with a Yorkshire Dialect that she can’t even understand, she has to live with little money, and most of all she has to live with her grief and being separated from her sister. Her main goal is to earn her grandfather’s respect and prove that she is capable of having her sister live with her. Along the way, she learns about herself, forms firm friendships, and sees life a totally different way.
This book was beautiful to read, it made me run the gamut of emotions…not least anger at the way that Evangeline was treated by her aunt, sadness at tragedies that some of the villagers go through, enjoyment at some of the things the children got up to, especially how cute they were when trying to get Evangeline to understand them, and absolute delight when Dermot and Evangeline got closer. This book was so much more than I thought it was going to be and I loved every minute of it.
I voluntarily reviewed an advanced readers’ copy of this book.