The story opens in Northamptonshire towards the end of the nineteenth century. Disease was rife, child mortality high, and religion strong; belief in God, and obedience to His commands was most people’s only hope of survival in this world and the next.
Elizabeth Underwood has many surviving children, memories of those who died in their first year, and no love for one of her daughters. Mary-Ellen grows up with Elizabeth’s childless sister, whilst Annie remains at home, expected to care for her younger siblings. Teenage Annie is sent into service – Annie falls in love with a man from a church with different beliefs and frees him to find someone else, but who does he find, and does he marry?
People don’t step off the page; they jump. The loveable, the infuriating, and the vicious, all grounded to be so believable you half-expect the meet them in the street. Ms Bryn has given her many fans another un-put-downable winner!
There is a strong element of Catherine Cookson or even Barbara Taylor Bradford present in the writing of Rebecca Bryn. The author writes authoritatively and accurately about late Victorian period, which aided by realistic well drawn characters that jump off the page very much brings the era alive. This is testimony to the writing skill of Rebecca Bryn who has dug deep into a rich vein of family history to embellish old hearsay and long forgotten scandals. In the writer's notes at the end, the author explains which characters and which parts were real and which parts are plot based fiction. She informs that the 'Kindred and Affinity' Act, now repealed, was an actual English Law preventing a widower from marrying his wife's sister. This book, Kindred & Affinity, is ostensibly a story of Annie & Mary Ellen, two sisters who were raised apart, and Edwin, the one man they both love. A love story in which one sister's romance is the other's heartbreak. Sadly the issue that tears apart the initial relationship between Edwin and Annie is coming from different faiths and conflicting dogma. This makes very little sense to people in contemporary times in which a person's faith has mostly become a redundant issue in society. However, there is another issue here that still remains very pertinent - that is a person's willingness to compromise their culture and ethics to obtain what they want in life. Annie wouldn't but her younger prettier sister, Mary Ellen did. In return for her sacrifice, she gains Edwin and invokes the jealousy and bitter thoughts of Annie. This story smacks of its genuine roots because it evokes a reaction in the reader. I was angry at Annie's lack of initial courage to be with the man she loved. Convinced that she was doing the right thing to protect the interests of her true, she found it hard to live with the consequences of that her decision. The man she showered affection upon was too easily willing to court her sister, but in his defence he didn't even know they were related. Alongside this story another one runs parallel. It is the story of another couple, Herbert and Freda, which evokes equally strong reactions from the reader. Herbert is a bad man and Freda suffers because of this. Both stories eventually merge into one and by the end, we have experienced quite a roller-coaster of a family saga. Most recommended.
i have thoroughly enjoyed reading this story. i have never read a book like this. it was true to life and religion and explained thing in a really great way. the emotions of all the characters was so real. the temperments of the families very realistic . an unbelievably great story. seriously recomnend
Rebecca Bryn has produced yet another family history inspired tale. Her World War I saga “The Dandelion Clock” was based on her grandfather’s service in that war, in both the Dardanelles and Egypt. When Bryn discovered that another ancestor had married his dead wife’s sister, against the teachings of his Church, she felt she had to re-imagine the story. In doing so she has presented her many fans with another encounter with the gritty realities of life for ordinary folk grappling with moral dilemmas against a background of poverty and disease. So many of the writers of historical fiction set their books in the “big houses” of the Regency and Victorian periods. Such “ordinary folk” as feature in those novels are often depicted as stereotypes — the down-trodden tenant who gets his revenge on the Lord, the hard working artisan who wins the heart of the errant daughter. Few writers take the trouble to explore the struggles of working men and women. Fewer still can convey both the pain and the joy that accompanies true love and the acts of forgiveness that lasting love entails. Such acts are the beating heart of all of Bryn’s work. From the evils of Auschwitz in “Touching the Wire” to the redemption of the torturer in the dystopian “Where Hope Dares” and now, with “Kindred and Affinity”, Bryn mines the lives of hard working people and their relationships to provide us with stories that go beyond entertainment and information to make us think about what really matters in our own lives. History should be about much more than those who died in the effort to make our lives better, or their leaders. It is also about those who survived, not only to tell the tale but to do all those mundane tasks that are at the root of the gradual improvements in our health, housing, working conditions and education. Who knows what emotional turmoil framed their lives? Rebecca Bryn knows. Thanks to her, we can too. If you have never read any of her books I urge you to do so. You could begin with Kindred and Affinity, her latest. In my humble opinion it is her best yet.
I was given a copy of this book for an honest review. This book is the tale centred around one family, but drawing in other characters. It is a social and religious study of Victorian England and highlights the restrictions placed on ordinary people and the hardships that they suffered. Annie and later Marie Ellen (sisters) fall in love with Edwin, but he is of a different denomination. Both families are against a union. The strength of this book, and why it is so enjoyable, is that the characters are drawn so clearly. You go through their struggles with them. When the book was finished I was still thinking about the main characters. I don't think that there can be a higher recommendation.
Historical Fiction might not be the top of your list if you were asked to find a tale which encompassed intrigue, violence, deceit, hatred and fanaticism, but it’s all in this story. Yes, it’s tempered with doses of love, compassion, passion, determination, integrity, and faith, but the balance is created with consummate skill. I feel privileged to have found great indie authors in a variety of genres. Having read her other titles I was glad that once again I trusted the pen of Rebecca Bryn. When I first saw the cover and blurb for this book I thought it might be where we parted company as reader and writer, but I had faith in her storytelling—which paid dividends. I’ve no doubt that like many others I’d never heard the phrase ‘Kindred and Affinity’, let alone understand where it evolved from, but it is integral to the story. In all of this author’s work, you sense the depth of research undertaken to produce quality. The tale is fact-based fiction which lends itself to many genres, but this author has a supreme ability to convey imagery and a keen sense of ‘the moment’. The dialogue in Bryn’s historical writing transports the reader to a time gone by just as surely as if they’d been teleported and left to interact with the characters. At the end of the story is a fascinating summary of how the fact and fiction were blended. Kudos, Rebecca Bryn.