Review by Booklist Review
In late nineteenth-century Scotland, 11-year-old Lizzie's life on her grandparents' impoverished farm is both hard and idyllic. She has her favorite animals, a few friends, room to run and grow, and chores that, though arduous, bring her closer to the land and her family. But Lizzie is also clairvoyant, experiencing disturbing visions she keeps to herself, regrettably so when they eventually come to pass. Yet Lizzie is unable, or perhaps unwilling, to see her own future. There are surprises galore, such as the appearance of her long-lost sister Kate, whose presence will complicate Lizzie's life in unimaginable ways. There is also the enigma that is her suitor Louis, an apprenticed tailor who lures her to Glasgow with promises of marriage only to abandon her. And perhaps worst of all is her grandparents' betrayal when she needs them desperately. Livesey's Lizzie is trusting and naive, which makes the setbacks and adversity she endures even more searing. The historical setting and paranormal touch comprise a departure for Livesey (The Boy in the Field, 2020) and a satisfying one. Livesey's vibrant imagery and profound compassion deliver a tragic coming-of-age novel that resonates with her gifted protagonist's resourcefulness in the face of stunning faithlessness.
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
In the powerful latest from Livesey (The Boy in the Field), an orphan raised on her grandparents' Belhaven farm in 19th-century Scotland struggles with her secret gift of second sight. Lizzie Craig sees images of calamities before they occur (a person felled by a swarm of bees, an animal dying). To her dismay, her warnings go unheeded. When she's 16, a young tailor's apprentice named Louis Hunter visits Belhaven from Glasgow. Lizzy falls in love with Louis and soon joins him in Glasgow, where she takes a position as a housemaid. Though she's devoted to him, he's reluctant to marry, even after Lizzy gets pregnant. With the sociological complexity of an Edith Wharton novel, Livesey portrays Lizzy butting up against gendered restrictions on her freedom, such as her inability to inherit Belhaven from her grandparents. After several devastating blows, Lizzy finally manages to find her path by using her gift. Sure-handed depictions of nature abound ("winter came like a fist"), as do textured glimpses of Lizzie's inner life ("She felt a sudden longing for this person she did not remember who could make thrushes sing and had boldly run away to Gretna Green"). The vitality of Glaswegian life is captured with scenes at the Tam O' Shanter Tavern, where Louis occasionally sings and Lizzy takes part in dances and dramas. Throughout, Livesey's lyrical perfection comes at no expense to the plot, which barrels like a runaway train. This is a gem. Agent: Amanda Urban, CAA. (Feb.)This review has been updated for clarity.
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Review by Kirkus Book Review
A Scottish farm girl finds love and heads for the big city. Lizzie Craig has learned not to speak of the "pictures" that sometimes give her glimpses of the future. Her grandparents have enough to deal with struggling to make ends meet at Belhaven Farm in eastern Scotland, and they are the only family she knows; her parents were both dead by the time she was a year old, in 1874. When her sister becomes engaged to a young man willing to work on the farm, Lizzie feels free to think about moving to Glasgow; her oldest friend, Hugh, who left Belhaven to work in a sewing machine factory, has been urging her to change her life for years, but the real reason is Hugh's friend Louis Hunter, a tailor's apprentice she falls in love with. Livesey writes evocatively about Lizzie's mingled panic and excitement upon encountering Glasgow's urban possibilities, and tenderly about her first experiences of sexual desire. It's a nice touch, belying stereotypes about late-Victorian society, that no one other than her grandfather is especially shocked when Lizzie becomes pregnant. But Louis has years left in his apprenticeship and feels they can't yet marry; the novel's second half follows Lizzie as she struggles to care for infant Barbara back home on the farm while holding Louis' possibly wandering affections in Glasgow. There's nothing really new in this tale of a young woman slowly coming to terms with the conflicts between her responsibilities to those around her and to herself, but Livesey's admirers will recognize the gentle compassion with which she limns all her characters, even those like Louis who don't necessarily behave well. Lizzie's second sight prompts a plot development that brings her odyssey to an interim conclusion, with some painful losses but also important satisfactions and new possibilities ahead. A quietly unconventional coming-of-age tale with engaging characters embedded in an absorbing story. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.