Title: Miss Milton Speaks Her Mind
Author: Carla Kelly
Published: 1998, Signet
Category: Regency Romance
Yes, I'm still reading Carla Kelly. I've been stressed out at work, so I've needed something sweet and nice to read. Unfortunately, this one was really sad and kind of depressing. It was still good, but not exactly the light reading I was expecting.
Miss Jane Milton is the poor relation living with some distant cousins, Lord Denby and Lady Carruthers. For the last 10 years she's been raising Lord Denby's grandson, Andrew, since his mother died in a tragic accident. Six months before the book starts, Andrew's father is killed from injuries sustained at the Battle of Waterloo. Lady Carruthers decides that Andrew must start school though Jane does not want him to, so they compromise by having Andrew tutored by their neighbor, Scipio Butterworth. Scipio invites Jane and Andrew to spend Christmas with him and his brother's family. Jane and Andrew, who are still grieving for his father, have some respite from the uncomfortableness at Denby Hall and, for a while, get to be part of a loving family.
I liked seeing Jane decide to "speak her mind," to give up just dutifully going along with the wishes of others and concentrate on what she needed and wanted. The secrets that she's been keeping are very sad and tragic--she had so much to deal with, it was lovely to see her have a happy ending. But I wasn't completely convinced by the romance between her and Scipio. It found it a little disappointing.
Carla Kelly is known for writing about "extraordinary" ordinary people. Her main characters aren't of the gentry. Scipio in this is a mill owner, and she has some interesting insights into the very earliest stages of the industrial revolution.
I read in an interview that Kelly had a death in the family around the time this was written and I think this book must have been the result. It is very much about the grieving process and how to get on with life after tragedies. All in all, I did like it, but it's way too gloomy for me to ever want to read again. I don't do sad. :)