This is a sweeping novel that begins in the drawing rooms of London and travels to South Africa's diamond mines. The main character, newly adult Frances Irvine must forge a way to live on her own upon the sudden death of her father. When Frances is left impoverished from the stock market losses of her late father, she must quickly figure out how she will survive. When her cousin proposes, Frances accepts his offer in order to save herself from a life of poverty. The voyage to her new homeland is not uneventful. Frances meets a dynamic diamond trader and upon arriving in South Africa, she must figure out if she loves this rogue or if she will be true to her husband who has become embroiled in a fight for humanity against a small pox epidemic sweeping the nation. This epidemic threatens the lives of Europeans and Africans alike yet their are many who would rather ignore it in the name of more profit from the mines. This is a humanizing novel with such beautiful, vivid descriptions of the atmosphere. You will be moved.
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Best part of story, including ending:
I loved this story because we see the full evolution of character in Frances Irvine. In addition to this the author goes over and above to convey historical details in an interesting way. The story does not drag often and the few times that it does, it passes quickly. You will truly get lost in this world she has created.
Best scene in story:
My favorite scene is when Frances and her husband are reunited after a long separation and plenty of hardship. This was hopeful no matter what comes later in the story, good or bad.
Opinion about the main character:
The only thing I disliked about this character was her naivete. At times Frances is positively flaky and dimwitted but the beautiful part was how McVeigh made the reader sympathize with this character despite her shortcomings. I felt sorry for her because it really showed how awful it could be to be a woman during this time when you had few choices other than marrying well in order to survive, especially if you were penniless.