[Review] Westerdale by Morwenna J. Holman

Title: Westerdale
Author: Morwenna J. Holman
Publisher: Olympia Publishers September 2, 2013
Genre: Fiction
Theme: Mysterious stranger takes a job and creates impossible circumstances for the family.
Format: Paperback
Age: Adult
Pages: 263
Rating: 5 Stars
Source: Free copy from Olympia Publishers in exchange for a review.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:North_yorks_moors.jpg
Summary:
It is September of 1825, in "the village of Scarshead", "northern county of Stradshire, England".  A stranger walks in to town inquiring about a job. He walks past the village and stumbles upon a stately home. The stranger inquires from the young woman who answers the door if he could speak to the owner. The stranger introduces himself as Heaton Grimshaw. The owner is Mr. Drayton and the young woman is his lovely daughter Elizabeth. Mr. Drayton is ill and in bed. He is unable to care for or manage his "horse dealer's yard". Within a few moments Mr. Drayton hires Mr. Grimshaw to be the new manager. Mr. Drayton's hasty decision to hire Mr. Grimshaw sets in motion tragic consequences.

Thoughts:
Heaton Grimshaw is a fantastic character study. The first words used to describe him is "scorn" and "hauteur" (haughtiness). "He looked upon everything only to criticize it."  He is a young man of 20, "able to fight anyone". Author Morwenna Holman paints Grimshaw's character along with the "barren, bleak, colourless, sinisterly, dark, unfriendly, cheerless birds," scenery. The two seem to go hand in hand, both the scenery or environment and Grimshaw.
He is a mysterious man, to be feared. He is a person to be watched from afar and not invited to live in your home with your lovely daughter, and takeover the managing of the "horse dealer's yard". Mr.Drayton made a foolish and naive error.
On page 20, the author alludes to Grimshaw's "weird visions of what he had latterly been through and queer dreams of eternal damnation haunted his waking hours". I wish the author had given an explanation as to what Grimshaw's past had been. It is obvious to me Grimshaw did not become a surly vile character upon arriving in Scarshead village. 
Elizabeth Drayton is a beautiful young woman who like docile and innocent prey is in the nearby clutches of Grimshaw. She has little contact with other suitors living in the rural area. I believe she feels sorry for Grimshaw. She has a strong motherly instinct and this passes on to wanting to care for Grimshaw.
This is a dark, dramatic story, reminiscent of Wuthering Heights (one of my favorite novels).
It is a character story with swarthy vile characters versus innocent as dove characters.
Story themes of good versus evil, perseverance versus apathy, "oppressor" versus "oppressed". 
I loved this story and read it in a day in a half. I do wish the author had given background information on Grimshaw.



Comments

  1. A prequel to this novel entitled Heaton and filling the reader in on Heaton Grimshaw's childhood and early life has been written and will be published later this year with all royalties going to charity as with Westerdale.

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  2. I highly recommend reading Westerdale, disturbing, thought provoking, it seems to be fitting with the dank scenes of the moors, with no happy ending, there is closure but it leaves the opportunity for the reader to ask questions as to whether there will be a sequel moving forwards. Difficult to put down the authoress has established a time of bygone era, with a spiritual feel it becomes a somewhat haunting read.

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