It’s the early 19th century in Carmarthenshire, Wales, and Mary and William are left to fend for themselves after a barn fire and their father’s untimely death leaves them with a farm they cannot manage and few prospects. Mary takes work at a law firm and as a day companion to one of the lawyer’s wives, but she worries about putting food on the table and keeping their heavily mortgaged roof over their heads. Despite Mary’s wishes, William joins the “Rebecca-ites”, a group of rebellious Welsh tenant farmers who took part in the “Rebecca riots” (a Biblical reference) to protest road tolls enacted by primarily British landowners. Dressing up as women to protect their identities, the rebels damage property, menace townsfolk, and work behind the scenes to change laws.
Although this is a glimpse into a geographical region and historical period that I’ve rarely read about, I found the narrative weighty, dull, and predictable; more of a historical account than historical fiction. Unless you have a great interest in Welsh history, there is little that feels very compelling here.
Amazon link is here.