Cover Image: The Orphan's Daughter

The Orphan's Daughter

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Member Reviews

I have always enjoyed Historical Fiction by Sandy Taylor and this wasn’t an exception. The Orphan’s Daughter is what I’d describe as a quiet story. Reading it transported me to Ireland and into the life of Nora Doyle. Hers wasn’t a fast, overly exciting life but it was beautiful and interesting in its simplicity.

Sandy Taylor writes beautifully. Nora and her best friend Kitty had me smiling almost throughout the book. The story is so descriptive that it fully transported me into their lives. I could picture them sitting on the wall watching funerals, sitting by the fires, dipping their fingers in the holy water. I love good, descriptive writing and the imagery in this one was wonderfully done.

This story tackles a number of themes including love, family and friendship. It is quite emotive and had many moments of highs and lows. I laughed with Nora through her highs and felt her sadness through her low moments. I think the author did a brilliant job in creating a character that is so easily likable and easy to sympathize with.

The Orphan’s Daughter was everything that I thought it would be. Beautifully written, poignant, riveting and quite memorable. Definitely recommended to all fans of this genre.
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Nora and Kitty are best friends, brought up in near poverty in Paradise Alley, they spend most of their free time together. On one of their tours of their village, Ballybun they come across a gate. This leads them into a secret garden of the Big House, owned by the ‘Honourables’ and to Eddie. Against her parent’s wishes, Nora spends lots of time in the garden with Eddie and they see their hard work paying off as the garden and their friendship blooms.
As she grows up and leaves school, Nora has the chance to move to Dublin and start work in a bookshop. She soon makes a new life for herself and is settled into her new surroundings. Then a tragedy strikes in Ballybun and Nora is torn whether to stay in Dublin or return to the town she left behind.
I cannot praise this book highly enough, it grabbed me from the first page. I loved the little phrases that Nora and Kitty used and had me laughing at some of the things they got up to, especially at the funerals. It’s just a beautiful book which is a delight to read. It has such a wonderful feel to it which fills you with such joy. Yet again, Sandy Taylor doesn’t disappoint.
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If you enjoy a feel good story then Sandy Taylor is the author to reach for. She is one of a rare breed of writers that can make you smile, laugh out loud and cry. 
Nora Doyle is a teenage girl living in rural Ireland surrounded by her loving family and friends. She forever to be found reading books and improving her vocabulary much to the consternation of her best friend Kitty.
By chance one day Nora and Kitty met a young boy called Edward and he immediately became an obsession for Nora. She had to keep this new friend a secret from her family especially her mother. Being a good Catholic girl this did not sit well with her conscience. 
A truly believable narrative and it touches all of your senses. Recommend it to like minded readers.
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The Orphan's daughter is my first book by Sandy Taylor and it was a thoroughly enjoyable story. Set in Ballybun, Ireland in 1924, it tells the stories of Nora Doyle and Kitty Quinn for whom every day is a fight for survival, and their coming-of-age.

One day, the two thirteen-year-old's sneak through a hole in a wall of that leads to Bretton House, the huge house on the top of the hill that is forbidden to them. When Nora meets Edward, who lives in the big house, their connection is instant. Nora gradually starts spending more and more time there, especially in the secluded garden where Edward can name every flower and plant. As drawn as Nora is to Edward, the house and the garden, she does not follow her mother's explicit instructions to stay away from Bretton House.

As the girls grow up, circumstances change, and Nora finds that she’s no longer able to remain in Ballybun. With the opportunity to move to Dublin, where a new life awaits, she grabs the chance to see what the world has to offer her, hardly believing that she’s leaving the place where she thought she would be content for the rest of her life.

This is a quiet book with a wonderful, appealing simplicity. Sandy Taylor creates her characters with heart and I could virtually hear their witty banter resonating from the pages. This heart-warming and very clever story has themes of loyalty, love, loss, choice, resilience and most of all, the power of friendship.
I highly recommend this utterly plausible five-star read. I can’t believe I haven’t read any of Sandy’s other books, but 'The Little Orphan Girl' is now at the top of my 'to-read' list.

I received a complimentary copy of this novel from Bookouture via NetGalley at my request, and this review is my own unbiased opinion.
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1924 & in the village of Ballybun Nora & her best friend Kitty are nearly at the end of their school days. They have had happy childhoods. Money is scarce but love isn't. One day they explore a hole in the hedge of the 'Big House' & come across a secret garden. Although Kitty isn't so interested Nora is enthralled by the place. They meet a young lad, Eddie, & with him Nora starts to revive the garden back to its former glory. When this is discovered she has to promise not to go back- a decision that makes her ill. Why are the families so intent on keeping her away from Eddie? What secrets are she unaware of?

This was a lovely book. The characters were engaging & the author captured the time and the atmosphere of a small Irish village beautifully. Thanks to Netgalley & the publisher for letting me read & review this book.
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3.5 Stars rounded down to 3

Anytime I see a new book available from author Sandy Taylor, I grab it.  I was swept away by her brilliant "The Runaway Children" and later, "The Little Orphan Girl".  Her books take place in Ireland and England, and they have a "quiet" quality of naturally flowing writing that ensures a comfortable read.  They usually take place during much simpler times, which is another appealing aspect.

In this outing the book begins with our main protagonist Nora Doyle who is best friends with a girl named Kitty Quinn.  They are pre-teens living in the coastal Irish town of Ballybun.  The last childish thing they are hanging onto is the practice of watching funerals take place in town, and rating them on things such as clothing, flowers, and grief shown.  There is a local tea shop called "Minnie's" where there is a little table set near a fireplace where you can repair for a slice of cake and hot tea, a refuge from the storm.  Many times the compassionate Minnie will squirrel away some day old buns to give to the girls out of the warmth of her heart.  A bun and tea is a frequent creature comfort in this book.  Church is a mainstay in the town and it is presided over by Father Kelly, who takes a great interest in his parishioners.  Every home has a little font with Holy water as you cross through the front door, and one would always intone, "May God bless all in this house."  These girls were always conscious when they were committing a sin and resigned to going to Father Kelly for confession about it.   When it's time for dating, it's called "walking out" with someone.  Another cute Ballybun slang is to use the word "eejit" when meaning to say idiot. 

Nora lived in a quaint whitewashed cottage in Paradise Alley where everyone knew each other and lived for years.  She loved her Grandpa Doyle for which they shared a profound love of reading.  In fact, whenever Nora was speaking to Kitty and using her ever growing vocabulary, they would knowingly attribute it to the literary influence of Grandpa Doyle.  

As I read on I slowly came to realize that this was a next in series from one of Sandy Taylor's previous books I had read, "The Little Orphan Girl".  However, unlike some books where you might say it was recommended or crucial to read the original book, I felt that this stood quite handily as a standalone.  In fact, "The Little Orphan Girl" was a much better read for which I had awarded a full 5 Stars.  I did enjoy this book in that easy way Taylor's writing guarantees, but in comparison to her two previous offerings that I mentioned, this lacked a certain "oomph" in the story of excitement, tragedy and the usual tearjerker moments.  I love books that make me cry.  Still, I will greedily pick up the next Sandy Taylor book to see what she has in store for us next time.
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Oh my word Sandy Taylor! What a gem of a book this is! Not only did I absolutely love it, but it made me yearn to get on a plane and head straight to Ireland for a long-overdue visit. If ever a book as evoked a feeling of such heartfelt longing to be somewhere then this is surely the one!

It’s 1924 and Nora and her best friend Kitty are in their early teens, living in the County Cork village of Ballybun. Times are difficult and every day seems like a struggle, but they have each other, and their loving families which is far more than many others seem to have in those harsh times. The descriptions of the two girls sitting on the wall of the churchyard ‘scoring’ funerals had me rolling with laughter, so typical was their innocence and raw honesty.

Nora adores her Mammy and Daddy, and is especially close to her Grandpa Doyle who has taught her a love of books and reading (and big words), and although she does her best to help where she’s able to and to do what she’s told, she just can’t understand why her Mammy has instructed her never ever to set foot inside Bretton House – the fancy house, where the ‘Honourables’ live, which is set apart from the rest of the village. Why would her mother tell her such a thing, and what on earth would her family have to do with the hoi poloi anyway?

But as tends to happen, her mischievous friend Kitty finds a way to sneak into the grounds of Bretton House – they figure the ‘grounds’ aren’t the same as being inside the actual house itself really, so Nora isn’t going against her Mammy’s wishes if she’s just in the grounds of the house, is she? They meet the cheeky, but friendly Eddie and quickly befriend him, visiting often. One day he shows Nora a secret garden, just like the one in one of her favourite books, and together they begin a journey of bringing the garden to life, learning about the different plants and flowers and grow and flower during the different seasons.

As the children grow up though, circumstances change, and Nora finds that she’s no longer able to remain in her beloved Ballybun. With the opportunity to move to Dublin, where a new life awaits, she grabs the chance to see what the big, wide world has to offer her, hardly believing that she’s leaving the place where she thought she would be content for the rest of her life.

This heart-warming coming of age story has themes of friendship, loyalty, loss, choice and most of all resilience. Ballybun is a place where people have very little when it comes to material possessions, but when it comes to love, support and friends they truly want for nothing. There is virtually no greed or envy – there’s no time for either of these when everyone needs to work hard every day, just to get by. And they’re happy with their lot. They have a strength of character that surpasses trivialities.

Sandy Taylor creates characters with heart. They’re so real that you can almost hear their witty banter reverberating from the pages! Some of the lines really are laugh-out-loud hilarious! I just loved it to bits!

I highly recommend this 5-star read. I can’t believe I haven’t read any of Sandy’s other books, but they’re firmly at the top of my TBR list, and my next trip to Ireland has been bumped up the travel-list too!
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A tender and touching tale of friendship and family. Sandy Taylor’s exquisite storytelling completely transported me to 1924 Ireland. Nora is a young girl living in a small village in Ireland with her loving family. She spends her days exploring with her BFF Kitty. One day the girls discovered a hole in the fence to the big manor on the hill. Nora has always been warned against approaching the big house, but she cannot resist. While investigating the grounds they run across a boy their age named Eddie. Eddie begins to show Nora how to tend the grounds and a beautiful friendship blooms. What follows is a lovely coming-of-age story.

  This is a quiet book with a big heart. The strength of this story is in its keen sense of time and place. Sweet well developed characters who will tug at your heartstrings. Loved all the friendships in the story as well as the strength of family. Times are hard for these characters but they all were so resilient and strong. Emotional and engaging this was a real treat.

*** Big thank you to Bookouture for my gifted copy of this book. All opinions are my own. ***
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We meet 13 year old Nora Doyle , her best friend Kitty, and Nora's family in the small Irish village of Ballybun. Nora and Kitty share adventures together and one day discover a hole in wall surrounding the big house on the hill. The house were Nora has been forbidden to go. But, the hidden garden and the boy, Eddie, that they find once through the hole in the wall proves to be an instant draw and Nora can't stay away. As her relationship with Eddie develops, she finds a connection she can't describe or explain. A trip with her Mammy reveals truths Nora will find hard to hear but will explain so much. Life's difficulties and tragedies shape Nora's decisions and future but just when she thinks she got it figured out, a tragic accident changes her path once again. Compelling writing will leave the reader with a lasting impression and a yearning to read more of Sandy Taylor's books!
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I've just digitally turned the last page of this book and find myself wondering where to begin in describing how I felt reading this book. The gut wrenching feelings this narrative unearthed brought me to tears numerous times with it's emotive words and insightful views on life and love. The writing was simply breathtaking, it was witty and beautiful in the same measure and it has quite frankly stolen my heart.

The narrative weaves a detailed plot spanning many years in the life of Nora Doyle. From childhood to womanhood this tale takes us on an emotive journey of life in all its terrible glory. Nora is an outstanding character who I loved from the starting blocks. Her quirky views on life and her adorable ways with words had me smiling from ear to ear. Her keen friendship with Kitty was a joy to behold and a true highlight to the story, that's for sure.

But what struck my heart and soul was Nora's deep connection with Eddie....their secret garden was a magical moment in this book and their narrative thread broke my heart to pieces with their deep bond and selfless love for one another. I already felt a strong Secret Garden connection before it was hinted at in the narrative but this literary link only served to elevate the story to another level.

Speaking of literary links, I must say that my all time favourite element to this story was the magical way in which Sandy Taylor threaded stories and literature throughout the narrative to create a dazzling patchwork quilt of literary love on the pages. It was exquisite and beautiful beyond words for a readers enjoyment.

Grief is a strong theme that takes hold as the story progresses and it's  a topic that resonates deeply for me in my life. "You can't run away from's something you carry with you....Embrace your grief, for it is now part of who you are" is a sentence that has never spoken louder to me in my life. I don't think I'll ever forget these words and I can't tell you how much I think I needed to read and hear them. So thank you from the bottom of my heart.

The Orphan's Daughter is a pure piece of magic. A story that will steal your heart and not leave you the same. Just read it is all I can truly say to you.
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This was a new author for me. I am not a huge fan of historical fiction but I find they can be nice break from modern day romance and/or crime fiction.  The cover was the first thing to catch my eye and I am pleased to say that I found myself surprisingly hooked from the first page. Once I started I was unable to put it down and devoured this truly enthralling tale in a single evening. Beautifully written, well researched story set in the 1920’s. It is a heartwarming yet heartbreaking tale of friendships, family, hardships and joy.  A very moving story indeed. The story flows along perfectly and I completely lost myself for a few hours within this emotional rollercoaster. There are many threads, yet not at all complicated, which the author neatly pulled together. This is the first book I have read by Sandy Taylor, and I will be reading many more. Digging a little further I realised this was a sequel to Sandy Taylor’s book The Little Orphan Girl (released in 2018) which I am looking to read very soon!
My sincere thanks to Bookouture and NetGalley for an advanced readers copy of ‘THE ORPHAN'S DAUGHTER’ by SANDY TAYLOR All opinions are my own and not biased in anyway.  All my reviews can be found on my blog momobookdiary
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Somewhere along the line this title got changed from "The Girl from Paradise Alley" to this one and I don't understand why. It literally makes no sense as she is not an orphan nor are her parents. In fact, it's the strong family unit that is the heart and soul of this story. 
  Nora Doyle is a 14 year old girl and with her best friend, Kitty, likes to attend funerals and rate them on a star system. Living in the small town of Ballybun in the County of Cork, this is what passes for entertainment. There is a large house that is full of secrets and when she meets Edward, the young boy from the house, she starts uncovering them.
  The book is full of the love of books and in fact Nora's goal is to work in a bookstore. Grandpa Doyle teaches her big words that she uses. Other than that, there is not much of a story. She grows older and things happen but slowly. I am not even sure what type of book this is. It's a pleasant read where nothing much happens.

  I don't know why they changed the title name but it's a shame. It has nothing to do with the story and should be changed back. Thanks to Net Galley for a copy of this book in exchange for a fair review.
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Some books get a hold of you right from the first sentence.This is one of those books.
It follows the life of 13 yr old Nora Doyle and her friend Kitty.They find a hole in the wall of the big house they are forbidden to go near.They crawl through it and find Eddie.
The story starts from that point and keeps you wondering what Eddies secret is.Beautifully written story of enduring friendships,loss and hardships.
Thankyou Netgalley for this ARC
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Based in Ireland in 1924, we are introduced to Nora Doyle.  13-year-old Nora lives in a small town in County Cork.  Forbidden to go near Bretton Hall, the big manor house in the town, curiosity gets the better of Nora and her friend Kitty.  There they meet Eddie who works there, and as they become friends, he teaches Nora about the flowers and the birds.  But Eddie appears to be hiding a secret…

I’ve read books by this author before and have found them to be heart-warming yet thought provoking reads.  As the story moves on in this book, you see more of Nora’s life as she turns from a teenage girl into a young woman.  Finishing school both friends part ways – Kitty goes to work at Bretton Hall and Nora goes to work in a bookshop in Dublin.  It’s most definitely a ‘coming of age’ storyline that tugs at your heartstrings with beautiful writing and descriptions of what life was like for the young Irish girls at that time.

I loved Nora’s character and found her relationship with both Kitty and Eddie endearing and emotional.  It was particularly heart-breaking for me to see how they all lived in such poverty, and yet I raised a smile every time Nora did, enveloping myself in the kindness and positivity that Nora gave out.  The mystery of what Eddie’s secret was kept me on the edge of my seat until it’s revealed, although as the story moved on, I did have an educated guess as to what it could have been!

The feature of Bretton Hall both in this book and the previous book, The Little Orphan Girl, gave the storyline a continuity, despite there being a 20-year difference, possibly meaning that there may be another book featuring it as well?!  The descriptions of the area were wonderfully written and I could just picture what it must have been like for Nora as I was reading.  It had me hooked right from the first page and once started I couldn’t put it down.  Filled with lots of tender, heart-warming moments, this is a wonderful story of love, friendship and family.  Would definitely recommend!
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This was a laugh out loud story that I fell in love with.  This was a story drenched in family and friendship and I could not put it down.  I loved the pacing and the characters and the story.  I couldn't put it down and I can not wait for more.
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It was 1924 and thirteen-year-old Nora Doyle and her best friend Kitty were happy with their lives and families in the small Irish town of Ballybun in County Cork. Nora had her Mammy, Daddy and two brothers, Stevie and Malachi at home, with her grandparents not far away. And she had Kitty. The girls spent all their time together in the holidays and one day they discovered a hole in the fence of a big property on top of the hill. Nora’s Mammy had forbidden her to go anywhere near the house, so it was with feelings of guilt that she followed Kitty through the hole and into a secret garden on the other side. It was there they met Eddie who was the son of the groom. He nurtured the garden and soon Nora was spending a lot of time there with him, weeding, planting, dead-heading roses, learning a lot about plants.

Nora had always loved reading and books, so when a friend offered her a job with her sister in Dublin at her bookshop, Finnigan’s, Nora knew that’s what she wanted to do. She had needed to get away for a while – there were secrets that were breaking her heart. She didn’t want to leave her family, but she must… What would Nora’s future be?

Wow! I have loved everything I’ve read by Sandy Taylor and The Girl From Paradise Alley was no exception. What a fabulous read! With laugh out loud moments, the girls’ distinctly Irish ways and comments, the deep friendship between Nora and Kitty and the powerful love and respect within Nora’s family, The Girl From Paradise Alley has cemented Sandy Taylor firmly onto my favourites list. Highly recommended.

With thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my digital ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.
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Wow, this is another great book that really deserves more than 5 stars.   It is a heartwarming as well as a heartbreaking story all at the same time.  Nora Doyle and Kitty Quinn are two thirteen-year-olds growing up in Ballybun, Ireland in 1924 who are best friends and seem to be joined at the hip.  As the girls mature and finish school, they begin their careers.   Kitty goes to work at Bretton Hall  and Nora leaves for Dublin to work in a book store.   The story takes on a lot of different threads which are all tied nicely together in the end by this author.  I absolutely loved this book and how this author wove all the characters and story lines together without it being confusing.  Thank you NetGalley and Bookouture for the ARC of this  wonderful book in exchange for an honest review.   Warning:  Keep the tissues handy!
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The setting is Ireland in 1924. Nora Doyle is a thirteen-year-old girl, living in a rural area where the struggle for survival is very real.

She and her family live in a small cottage that is cold and cramped. She wants to escape being poor, but she doesn't let it stop her smile.

One day as she and her best friend, Kitty, are watching another funeral procession they notice the big house on the hill. Nora really wants to see the place where her mother worked at one time and has now forbidden Nora from ever going there but won't say why.

When Kitty talks her into sneaking into the garden, the adventure begins. They find an opening and in they go. The garden is beautiful and they aren't the only ones there. A boy named Edward is there. The three form a fast friendship that has Nora spending all the time she can in their secret garden. But Nora is sneaking around going against her mother's wishes. And Edward is the key to a family secret that could change Nora's life forever.

This one tugged on my heartstrings. The brutal hardships, the loss, and even the friendships.

Well Done! The author pulls us in and doesn't let go. I like that.

NetGalley/ February 5th, 2020 by Bookouture
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Life was very different for Nora in the 1920's than it is for a young woman of the same age now, and I found it really interesting reading. The author had clearly done a lot of research into that time period.

Nora and Kitty were best friends and the trials and tribulations of their teens and young womanhood are the basis of this book. A small village in strictly Catholic Ireland, a century ago, was the setting and the girls were in quite childish and yet forced to grow up quickly, at the same time. Kitty finds a hole in a fence and they find a garden, and a young boy called Eddie. The story of the girls, mostly from Nora's POV, and Eddie, is beautifully written. I can feel Nora's anguish as things happen in her life.  

Life was tough in Ireland at the time this book was set and Nora's life is a reflection of that. I found myself getting very moved, at different points in the story.

4.5 stars from me.

Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture.
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The book starts when Nora and Kitty are thirteen, best friends and have slipped through a hole in the fence to the grounds of Bretton Hall, the big house in their little rural corner of County Cork.  The two are gossiping and mimicking the attendees to a funeral procession, and in breaking in to be closer to the place they both hope to work in the future, they meet Edward, the groom’s son.  Full of adventure and a bit of the forbidden, the three see the walled garden, learn about the plants from Edward, and the first bonds of a lasting friendship will be sown.  

But the girls have been told, frequently, to stay away from the big house: Nora’s mother was once employed there and refuses to talk about that time.  Yet the friendship between Nora and Eddie strengthens, much to everyone’s dismay.  With growth and upheaval, it’s soon up to Nora to make choices between her friends and family, while still not completely understanding all of the possible ramifications. 

Oh this was lovely and fully of “it’s time” as there is an undercurrent of innocence and purity that seems to thread through even the most trying of situations.  From Nora and Kitty and their friendship, to the true bond that she and Eddie form, all the way through to her own relationship with her family and some secrets that they reveal, the story is touching, clever and feels utterly plausible.  There is plenty of atmosphere, as Taylor’s prose takes on the feel of the Irish Storyteller at the pub  - allowing the moments to stand alone and be unique before other elements are coming into play. A lovely story that brings the place and people forward while allowing the reader to escape into the pages and stories. 

I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility. 

Review first appeared at   I am, Indeed 
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