She Rises, Paperback Book
3 out of 5 (1 rating)


Louise Fletcher, a young dairy maid on an eighteenth-century Essex farm, has long been warned of the lure of the sea - after all, it stole away her father and brother.

But when she is offered work as a maid in the naval port of Harwich, she leaps at the chance to see more of the world.

Fifteen-year-old Luke has been press ganged and sent to sea on board the warship Essex.

Aching for the girl he left behind, he must learn fast if he is to survive.

Louise and Luke's new worlds are dangerous and exciting, and when they collide the consequences are astonishing.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Historical fiction
  • ISBN: 9781408835920

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Georgian naval fiction and lesbian costume drama are two of my favourite genres, so I pretty much had to read this book, which sets itself up as the love-child of <i>Fingersmith</i> and <i>Billy Budd</i> (with a few touches of Patrick O’Brian and <i>Orlando</i> thrown into the mix). And Worsley makes a pretty good job of it. It's her first novel, and maybe it's a bit too obvious that she has studied with Sarah Waters (quite apart from the fact that she has a ringing endorsement from the prof. on the front cover...). But it's lively and entertaining in a <i>Moll Cutpurse</i> kind of way that makes us forgive the occasional bit of detail that doesn't quite ring true. So why not?I was nearly derailed at the beginning of this book by a couple of dreadful clangers that should have been sorted out during editing (did Waters actually read the book before endorsing it?). For a start, alternate chapters have A Village Milkmaid and The Smartest Lad in all the Fleet as their protagonist. You don't need to be a diehard Savoyard to see how that brings up a completely different set of cultural associations from those the author intended. We're all sitting there waiting for gondoliers, bad baronets and Japanese officials to appear (they don't, of course, but it makes it very hard to take the story seriously). And then, just a couple of pages in, a seafaring character uses the word “bint” with a great deal of emphasis. Which would be fine if this were <i>Tipping the Velvet</i>: it's a coarse, offensive term men use to refer to women, and it nicely establishes the theme of unequal relations between the sexes. But we're supposed to be in 1740, over a century before this word entered English from Arabic (FTR: it's first recorded in the OED in 1855, but it didn't really become current until it got into army slang in the Middle East during WW1). And a lot of readers are going to spot that. No-one expects the language of an historical novel to be 100% period-authentic, but at the very least it should be plausible: the author should do some research before using a word that she wants to draw to the reader’s attention. It's not as though there's any shortage of offensive terms for women in 18th century English.

Also by Kate Worsley