Thursday, 3 April 2014



My Rating:  9/10

About the Book:

As a foundling the young Em Smith is brought to the Cheshire country home of the ambitious Waterland family, where she serves as a companion to their daughter, Eliza. But as they grow up, Em’s position becomes uncertain and she is increasingly troubled by the mystery of her birth. When Eliza goes in pursuit of a husband and a fortune in London, Em finds herself implicated in a horrific crime and must flee for her life.
Her frantic escape takes her across country and onto the high seas, where she is at the mercy of the enigmatic smuggler, Captain McDonagh. But there is a more potent force drawing Emily on: a spirit whose presence she has felt all her life, and whose irresistible design – be it malicious or benevolent – will force her onwards to a distant shore. There she will confront the astonishing secret of her origins. 

Turning the Stones is set in Georgian England in the mid-18th century.

The story opens with Em waking up in an unfamiliar bedchamber covered in blood with no knowledge of how she got there, where she is or who the murdered man in the room is.  As she is the only suspect, she decides to try and escape to France and thus her adventures begin!

Spoken by Em who is pretending she is telling her story to her unknown mother, a mother who she believes abandoned her when she was a baby, her tale tells of treachery and lies, romance, smugglers, with a touch of Irish story-telling.

Debra Daley's novel is told in the writing of the 18th century which I thought worked really well.  This paragraph tells of how Mrs Waterland found her:-

She had come across me, the story goes, among a swarm of rickety foundlings in a London hospital, while making her charitable rounds.  My inability to recover that day from my memory has always been a source of great frustration to me.  I can only imagine the elation I must have felt when her limpid eye fell on my cot and she plucked me from the fate to which I had been originally assigned.

I was drawn into the atmosphere of the story-telling, it was evocative and compelling as Em gradually begins to remember how she came to be in the bedchamber.  It was lovely to see Em's character developing through the book from a quiet and reserved lady's companion to a more confident young lady.

Vivid characters, windswept landscapes and a few twists all combined to make Turning the Stones a brooding and unforgettable novel which I absolutely loved.

I received a copy of this book from the publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Available to buy from

Follower on Twitter @ddaleyauthor

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