|book 1 of the Jennie Trilogy|
'In 1809, marriage was the best a spirited, healthy, and intelligent girl could hope for, especially if she was an orphan without a fortune. Jennie Hawthorne, in London with an aunt who promises to make a good marriage for her, hates being exhibited as prime wife material and is desperately homesick for the family home by the North Sea - Until she falls in love with Nigel Gilchrist, a handsome officer in the Household Cavalry. Newly married, Jennie moves to the Scottish Highlands, where Nigel will serve as manager (factor) for his older brother at the family estate of Linnmore.
Jennie's delight with her seemingly ideal new life is short-lived, however. She soon witnesses the cruelty of the infamous Highland clearances: tenant cottagers forcibly evicted from their homes by 'progressive' lairds to make way for more profitable sheep. Horrified by the sight of burnt-out cottages, Jennie is even more appalled when she finds that Nigel is involved in the evictions.
I have read many Elizabeth Ogilvie books, all set in Maine, predominately on the islands of Maine. I first fell in love with Maine thru her novels and now it feels like home to me. This one is different. It is predominately set in Scotland in 1809. The first 8-9 chapters are set in England, introducing you to Jennie. Jennie was born and raised in Northumberland on the edge of the North Sea. She has 3 sisters. Their mother had died and they were very close to their father. She was basically a farm girl. Her father dies and the girls are separated. Sylvia was already married to a parson, Ianthe had gotten a position as a companion and governess in a wealthy household in Switzerland, Sophie was 15 and was welcomed into the cousin's family that inherited the home thru entail. Only Jennie was sent away to live with an Aunt and Uncle in London. They were determined to find Jennie a good husband. Jennie was ready to run away from all the hustle and bustle and pretense involved in London Society when she met Capt. Nigel Gilchrist. It was love at first sight for both of them.
The story was a little slow for me up until she marries Nigel and moves to Scotland and then it takes off! Nigel is a wonderful, loving, kind husband. She feels safe with him and trust him. Nigel is in line to inherit the large estate of Linnmore as his brother is childless. But Jennie doesn't really feel comfortable in 'high society'. Will she fit in? She believes Nigel will be a kind and good Laird and she is looking forward to making the people's lives easier when she is Lady of the estate. But, in a second, Jennie is thrown into a circumstance where she sees a side of her husband that she can not believe exist. How will she go on? In a brief innocent encounter with Nigel's illegitimate cousin all of their lives are changed for ever.
Jennie must flee with Alick. Can she trust him? It's a very long hike, thru very rough terrain and dangerous places, to make it to Fort Williams and a ship to America for Alick and passage home to Northumberland for Jennie. Does she have what it takes to get there? Will Alick, a quiet man she doesn't even really know, care for her welfare? What will happen when they get to Fort William? Is the law there waiting for them? Does Alick make it on a ship and does Jennie go on to her sister's back home?
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