Author : Sandy Taylor
Title : The Little Orphan Girl
Pages : 358
Publisher : Bookouture
Publication date : September 24, 2018
Ireland, 1901: For as long as six-year-old Cissy Ryan can remember, she has been a workhouse girl. Living amongst the other orphan boys and girls, dreaming of a family that might come and choose her for their own.
But the day her real mammy finally comes to claim her is not how Cissy imagined. An unfamiliar woman takes her to a tumbledown cottage in the rural Irish countryside to meet her gruff granddaddy. Settling into the isolated and poverty-stricken village is tough. But Cissy’s blossoming friendship with Colm Doyle and his horse Blue show Cissy the kindness and laughter is possible, even in the hardest of times.
As Cissy grows up, she finds that the world around her is ever changing. When she goes to work at prestigious Bretton Hall, she begins to realise that not everyone has an honest heart…
We first meet Cissy Ryan when, at the age of six, she leaves a workhouse holding the hand of a woman claiming to be her mammy. The workhouse for orphans is the only home Cissy has ever known and her mammy isn’t quite the kind of mother she expected. In fact Cissy was sure her name was Martha and she didn’t even have a mammy. Nevertheless, Cissy moves in with her mammy and her grandfather, a grumpy old man, in a tiny cottage. Life is suddenly very different but there is a silver lining and his name is Colm Doyle.
From these humble beginnings, we follow Cissy as she grows up and goes out into the world to work at prestigious Breton Hall. Here Cissy learns all about the divide between the poor and the rich and that some people aren’t honest or even nice. Their sense of entitlement is remarkable as they go through life without a care in the world for the people who work for them or their circumstances.
Cissy is an absolutely delightful character and I warmed to her immediately, even though she sometimes came across as a little too good to be true and quite naive. Growing up in early 1900’s Ireland was tough and I feel the author really brought that era to life. From poverty to prejudice to the stigma attached to unwed mothers, these weren’t exactly happy times.
The Little Orphan Girl is a beautifully written, though not entirely surprising, historical fiction story about family, love and friendship. Full of wonderful characters, it will have you rooting for them all the way and wishing for a happy ending. Despite the certain level of predictability and the fact that I quite prefer my historical fiction with a bit more depth to it, I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with Cissy and following her on her journey.
The Little Orphan Girl is available to buy!