Book Reviews

The Sisterhood by Penelope Friday at Bella Books

Genre Lesbian / Historical / 19th Century / Regency / Romance
Reviewed by A.L. Brooks on 14-July-2016

Book Blurb

When Charity Bellingham visits London for the Season, she has no idea what adventures lie ahead. But a chance meeting with the beautiful Isobelle Greenaway will have long term consequences as Charity discovers things about London society, about slavery, and most of all about herself.

But it’s the introduction to The Sisterhood—a secret society of ladies—that will impact and change her life forever.

 

Book Review

Lesbian historical fiction is still a rarity, which in my opinion is a shame because if it is done well it is delightful to read. And this one is done well indeed. Penelope Friday delivers her third novel set in the 19th century, and although I haven’t read the others, I will definitely be reading them soon.

Charity Bellingham and her sister Rebecca are forced to move to London from their beloved countryside when their father dies, leaving no sons to take over his estate. As happened in those days, the estate passes to a male cousin and the Bellingham women are on their own. Their mother, a conniving social climber, insists their only way to survive is if Rebecca is married off to the wealthiest man she can find. Charity, taller than most gentlemen and most definitely what we would call a tomboy these days, is not considered marriage material, and so is left out of her mother’s grand plans. Rebecca does find a rich husband, an insufferable man whom she doesn’t even like, let alone love. But her mother is happy enough, and promptly leaves London as soon as they are married, leaving Charity to take up residence with her sister and her new husband. When the new husband makes extremely unwelcome advances toward Charity, she flees the house and stumbles, literally, into the arms of Isobelle, who introduces her to a select group of ladies called The Sisterhood.

The story of Charity’s acceptance into the group, and her burgeoning awareness of the key theme linking all the women in it—lady love—is the main strand of this story. But also running through this book, in rich veins, is Rebecca’s story of a woman forced to marry into money, as was common at the time, and also the story of the slave trade, and attempts to bring in laws to make it illegal. It was a key political issue at the time, and Friday has clearly done her research on this as well as the general societal pressures of the time. The physical settings, dress, and daily functions come across as accurately drawn, with just enough detail to evoke the period and the sentiments of the era.

Charity is a wonderful character. She is as strong as she can be, given the time and her circumstances, and her realization of her sexuality is handled with the gentleness you’d expect from a novel set in the 19th century. Isobelle is flighty and somewhat irritating, which I loved, and Nan, whom Charity does not like at first, gradually becomes a key player in Charity’s life and it is lovely to watch their story gently unfold.

If you are looking for hot love scenes you won’t find them, and that’s absolutely right for a story such as this. What you will find is a series of beautiful narratives around the emotional side of love, and heartbreak, and of the sheer joy of loving a woman and being loved by her in return.

 

 

 

 

DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by Bella Books for the purpose of a review.

Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novel, 296 pages
Heat Level
Publication Date 16-June-2016
Price $9.99 ebook, $16.95 paperback
Buy Link http://www.bellabooks.com/9781594935084e-prod.html