Esther Aumery is excited. She has a present for Daniel, the grounds-keepers' son, for whom she has a strong attachment. She wakens at dawn to the sound of a cart driven wildly. Looking out the window, she sees a face of pure evil that she will never forget.
Later that morning before school, she and Daniel with the other villagers find a girl dressed in a filthy rags stuffed under a hedge on the main road. Daniel carefully removes the girl from the hedge wraps her in a blanket and makes arrangements for her to be taken to the workhouse, but on the way there she disappears.
The village settles back to normal, but that isn't the whole story. Later, Clary a maid in the village manages to keep Daniel and Esther apart. Esther marries Gervase Lincoln, the owner of Barrow Hall whose young daughter disappeared causing the death of his wife. Daniel agrees to marry Clary believing that she is pregnant. However, the question of who she really is hovers over their lives.
This is a dark book with plenty of intrigue reminiscent of the Brontes. The pace is leisurely spanning the time from before to after WWI. The story moves slowly with a great deal of beautiful description that draws you into the life of the village.
From my point of view the problem with this novel is not the setting or the plot, but the characters. Daniel and Esther seem flat. Many highly emotional events happen to them and around them, but for me they remained static.
I recommend this book if you enjoy long, dark, novels, but if you're interested in good characters, this many not keep you interested.
I received this book from Net Galley for this review.