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- Publisher: ZunTold (21 July 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1999863305
- ISBN-13: 978-1999863302
- Jiddy Vardy
Thrilled to see
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4 September 2018
Review from Anna Caig (Book Blogger, Writer, Sheffield Observer Book Writer):
Review from @Jesswrites http://www.jesswrites.wordpress.com
Jiddy Vardy was a well-worthwhile detour from my typical reading material. Accustomed to the romances and slow-paced philosophical exploration of the 19th century, the prospect of pirates, adventure, and a sprinkling of teenage angst was actually quite excitingly enticing as I cast my eyes down my ‘To read’ list.
Set in the close-knit, coastal community of Baytown in the late eighteenth century, Jiddy Vardy follows its eponymous, feisty, and loveable heroine through her teenage years, against a turbulent backdrop of smuggling rings, suspicion, and secrecy. The threat of capture looms from the moment an excitable young Jiddy proudly gains entry into the communal undercover bootlegging of her friends and neighbours. The danger of internal destruction, too, poses an even bigger threat. Estevez frankly and emotively depicts the fate of traitors, asking us to question the nature of group identity and the more sinister side of solidarity.
Getting off to a fearless start, the novel opens at sea with a terrified but spunky young mother mid-labour, and a ship captured by pirates. And this plunge into the heart of the action is sustained throughout, with the fiery temper and passion of our heroine and her fellow Baytowners creating a multitude of alternately moving, thrilling, frustrating, heart-warming, and shocking sketches which are nonetheless tightly bound and skilfully juxtaposed against one another by the watertight, original storyline which Estevez creates. The narrative structure strikes a great balance between affording us enough teasing insight on which to speculate, and creating mystery so that we want to keep those pages turning.
Also giving unity to the fluctuations of plot are the recurring themes which Estevez holds in suspension. This story goes further than simply keeping us on the edge of our seats with the risky exploits of a community working undercover to support themselves, and, although it frankly lays out the suffering of a disregarded northern community, stolen goods and political tensions aren’t all there is to it.
Ostensibly a story of pirates and adventure, Jiddy Vardy is really about growing up. Jiddy’s hopes and insecurities as a teenage girl who often feels a lacking sense of belonging strongly resonate despite the historical setting. We’re in tune with Jiddy’s thoughts, heroic and not-so-heroic, every step of the way. As young adult readers we see the reflection of our own experience, remarkably well-captured and honestly, unashamedly laid out, in the mental and moral ups and downs of our formative heroine.
Its pages too, are littered with inspiration for modern feminists, with Jiddy one of a multitude of female characters in the novel who know their own mind, and retain independence, agency, and brilliance in the face of challenges, acting decisively and admirably even when forced to make difficult choices. For fear of spoilers, I won’t spill who my favourite of these is, beyond appreciating the complexity of the characters which Estevez lays before us, none of whom can be simply or categorically reduced to hero, heartthrob, or villain.
A charismatic and compelling read for a young adult audience, which explores how we find love, happiness, loyalty, morality, and, more than anything, how we find and realise our own identity, wherever and whoever we are.
Review from Madge Eekal Reviews http://www.madgereviews.co.uk :
A character-driven YA story with a carefully crafted plot that will challenge you to think about what is right and wrong.
Jiddy Vardy was rescued as a baby from the tumultuous seas in 1779. With her dark skin and hair, she’s always known she’s an outsider in the pale, largely fair-haired, community of Robin Hood’s Bay. Now 16, Jiddy is determined to fit in: she’s desperate to join the Bay’s clandestine smuggling activities even if this means risking her life and freedom. Soon, however, her experiences lead her to question what she really wants and who should command her loyalty.
Although it is not formally divided, Jiddy Vardy is a story in three parts. Turn to chapter one and you’ll find yourself immediately plunged into a truly dramatic scene: a 16 year old gives birth at sea moments before pirates take control of the ship. These opening chapters have everything a good book needs – drama, action and emotion not to mention description so vivid that I could feel myself cringing and almost crying. Move on to chapter four, however, and you’ll find the story takes a new turn. Here we meet our feisty protagonist Jiddy as a child before taking up her story at the same age as our original character. Jiddy is an absorbing character and I was so engrossed that, by the time I reached chapter thirty-nine, I’d almost forgotten those opening three chapters. Then suddenly, all the carefully crafted elements of the plot drop into place and that powerful opening comes into its own.
I have to apologise if this review seems to be written in code but it’s hard to say more without spoiling your enjoyment of this book. On the surface this appears to be a character-driven YA story but the inclusion of those first three chapters lays the ground work for a clever plot and the final section of the book has a wonderful, and truly satisfying, climax and conclusion.
Jiddy Vardy is, however, more than just a cracking story with strong and believable characters. It’s one of those books that makes you think about issues and I was quickly absorbed in an internal debate about the rights and wrongs of the villagers’ smuggling vs the behaviour of the government’s representatives (in the form of Preventives and Dragoons) in Robin Hood’s Bay. Author, Ruth Estevez, cleverly presents a series of events and experiences that shape both Jiddy’s and the reader’s views. I was particularly impressed with the nuances of the situations and the fact that everything, including our cast of characters, has a layer of complexity.
If you enjoyed this, I’d recommend you head to your local bookstore and get yourself a copy of another wonderful historical teen story in The Goose Road by Rowena House.
Publication date: June 2018
Author’s website: Ruth Estevez
From Zoe @playingbythebook http://www.playingbythebook.net
A pacy tale of high secrecy, first love and agonising betrayal there’s much to enjoy in Ruth Estevez‘s début novel, Jiddy Vardy. Dramatic, intense settings (from the North Yorkshire moors and coastline to high society life in London at the time of Haydn) and vibrant characters, (including an independent and brave heroine) enrich a plot packed with momentum. Ruth Estevez’s fine ear for language and dialect, and her nuanced exploration of belonging, family and how judging right or wrong isn’t always black or white provide food for thought as well as comfort reading to curl up with.
From the first page the reader is plunged into Tessa’s totally believable world. The novel is full of the apprehensions of the times, coupled with Tessa’s emotionally difficult decision making which could alter the family dynamics forever should she choose to follow her dreams.
Can she take that risk?
The setting, historical references, descriptions of family politics and the fleetingness of life in this era all read like a period feature film, such are the book’s many coloured layers.
Tessa’s decision making is as relevant now as it was then. We feel for her every step of the way; she could be me or you. A wonderful book with intertwined characters and a storyline that has you urging Tess on at every stage.
Miss Estevez is obviously in love with her many well rounded and observed characters.This certainly shines through the prose, which in itself, is
effortless and what makes this book so enjoyable to read.
An absolute pleasure.
Let me say first and foremost that this is NOT girly literature. This is GOOD literature. I am not a lover of romantic fiction and when I am sick in bed I take Chandler and Hammett with my whiskey rather than Austen and Bronte, but in spite of its romantic look, this book is so well written, and the characters are so rounded and interesting, that you are simply carried along by their lives. This book is above and beyond genre. It is that rarest of things: good writing, a good novel, a damn good read.
Quite aside from the interest of the story itself, which is intricate, tense and emotionally charged, and quite aside from the characters who are, each and every one of them, interesting people, the beauty of the prose is what stands out about this book. The writing is exquisite without ever being tedious or pretencious. Estevez is clearly in love with words, and as she uses them she makes them beautiful, vibrant and even succulent.
This is a book you will want to read, and keep reading, because you care about what is happening to the people, but also just for the sheer pleasure of how she uses the language. A real joy.