I recently finished reading this very enjoyable novel from Beautiful Feet Books entitled, The Daisy Chain. It started slowly and I almost gave it up due to what I felt was a frustrating pace and sometimes difficult characters, but I am so glad I kept reading! In fact when I finished I went back and reread some of the beginning sections and it was so much better and more rewarding. The author, Charlotte Mary Yonge, lived in the 19th century and wrote some wonderful books. The Daisy Chain shares the intimate details of the country life of a large upper-middle class family headed by much-loved Doctor May. She gave a realistic window into this family based upon her own life experiences. She wrote in a way unlike any other work I have read from the Christian perspective in Anglican England. It was truly one of the most fascinating books I have ever read, and really is a book to be read more than once.
The book's main character, and there are many fascinating characters you meet, is young Ethel May. She struggles with the responsibilities of being a daughter, sister, friend, and of scholarly life, domestic life, and in her spiritual life; but not in an unrealistic way. She has great knowledge, but sometimes lacks the wisdom that time and experience can provide. There are several overall threads covering the Victorian spheres of women, religion and how it is lived out in daily life, our duties towards our family and neighbors, and the limits of society with its various classes at the time. It is intricately woven and beautifully written, and while I found myself at times slightly perturbed by various words I did not know or quotations the family used that were unfamiliar to me, it was a very enlightening and enjoyable read. I think it was more my own lack of knowledge that perturbed me!
The Beautiful Feet folks know how to make a nice book in that they leave nothing wanting. Also included is an Introduction and A Brief Sketch of the Life and Works of Charlotte Mary Yonge. I do not recommend that you read either of these before you have finished the book for it will spoil certain aspects of the plot, but you will definitely want to read them once you have. Also included at the back of the book are five Appendices on The Oxford Movement, The Woman Question: A Comparative Analysis, The Sunday School Movement and Victorian Social Stratification, Opium Use in the Victorian Nursery (very eye-opening), and What the May Family Read. This last kindly informs us where all the various quotes the family used in the book were from!
If you are looking to enrich your mind with a clear and engaging look into this time period, and to keenly feel for those in the story dealing with joy, sorrow, loss, gain, faith, and peers, you will enjoy this book immensely.