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Proof of Virtue
Leila Snow. Leila Snow, $2.99 e-book (215p) ASIN B076C4Z78J
This simplistic portrayal of life in 1830s Manchester explores the morality of choices made in poverty. After their middle-class parents die of cholera, 19-year-old Emma Belden and her four-year-old twin siblings enter the poorhouse in order to have shelter and food. Before long, Emma must choose between allowing her brother to work as a chimney sweep or becoming the mistress of the abusive owner of a local mill. When local lord Gideon also takes an interest in her, Emma’s situation becomes more complicated as she attempts to protect herself and everyone she cares for. Snow’s debut showcases her research as she explores the direness of the workhouse, grim working conditions for the lower classes, and daily life on a country estate. Unfortunately, the overall effect is episodic and unsubtle, as the characterizations have little nuance, but the straightforward prose and historical authenticity make up for the lack of depth. Emma and Gideon’s romance is sweet and will appeal to readers with an interest in 19th-century history. (BookLife)

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly on 04/12/2019