Fields of Blue
by Laura Levy
Trafford Publishing

"As the crow flies, that's the way you go!"

This is the incredible journey of Nelly Butcher, who sets out on her own at the age of ten. Determined to get away from her abusive London environs after the death of her father, Nelly is unaware of the danger that awaits her, such as encountering jails, a brothel, an orphanage, and being accused of murder. Nonetheless, several benevolent people who enter her life miraculously come to her aid. Even though she is perplexed by the unresolved conflicts of her past, she looks beyond that and gives back to others during times of war.

Based on a true story, Levy's dense debut novel in some respects is like a next generation Jane Eyre. Set in London during the early to mid-twentieth century, Levy tells the story of one woman's heroic feats amid a time period when cows were treated better than women and children. Amid a good handful of antagonistic characters, Nelly is not only the main protagonist, but also a dynamic character. Nelly is not only growing older, but also she is changing from a shy introverted child into an independently spirited woman.

Written in third person, Levy's utilization of the era's language takes readers right into the heart of the impoverished streets of London that are anticipating the news of wars, both World War I and II. Although the first of three chapters is by itself the length of a novel, Levy's narrative is absolutely riveting. She deftly integrates contrast throughout to keep Nelly's account flowing, such as reminiscent scenes of her beloved father, idyllic depictions of the countryside and seashore, a plethora of kind-hearted moments, and viewing the reactions of others that she's encountered. Truly, a one-of-a-kind story, Fields of Blue is a wonderful read for young and older adults, as well as an excellent addition to British literature.


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