Liverpool, 1893, and tragedy sends Beth Bolton on a journey far from home ...
Fifteen-year-old Beth's dreams are shattered when she, her brother Sam and baby sister Molly are orphaned. Sam believes that only in America can they make their fortunes so, reluctantly leaving Molly with adoptive parents, brother and sister embark on the greatest adventure of their lives.
Onboard the steamer to New York there are rogues aplenty. But Beth's talent with the fiddle earns her the nickname Gypsy - and the friendship of charismatic gambler Theo and sharp-witted Londoner, Jack. And after dodging trouble across America, finally the foursome head for the dangerous mountains of Canada and the Klondike river in search of gold.
How far must Beth go to find happiness? And will her travels lead this gypsy to a place she can call home?
I am normally a fantasy girl, so reading a pure romance was a little outside my comfort zone - but I was sitting in Wellington Airport with nothing to do for two hours and it honestly looked like the most interesting thing on the shelf (that wouldn't make me think too hard).
By the time I got home, I was half way through and really coming to admire the young protagonist, Beth. I have, of course, read the odd Mills and Boon before and my expectations were not high, but Beth is a feisty and determined girl who survives more than one bad relationship to realize she doesn't need anyone but herself. Finding the perfect guy at the end was sort of an afterthought - though of course he had been desperately in love with her since page thirty.
Gypsy taught me a lot about turn of the century America and the last big Gold Rush up to Alaska. Lesley Pearse definitely did her research. She even travelled the route her characters would have taken and spent time in the old gold mining towns.
Given that I had no expectations, this book was a wonderful surprise. Beth's fiddle playing charmed me and her story made me open to learning the history of a place I would otherwise have found incredibly dull. I conclude that even for those not interested in romance, Gypsy is a really descent read.
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