Best Book Editors

Betsy by Marcia Clayton


1820 North Devon, England
Betsey, a sadly neglected child, is shouldering responsibilities far beyond her years. As she does her best to care for her little brother, Norman, she is befriended by Gypsy Freda, an old woman whose family is camped nearby. Freda’s granddaughter, Jane, is also fond of the little girl and is concerned about her.

Thomas, the second son of Lord Fellwood, happens across the gypsy camp and becomes besotted with Jane. However, Jasper Morris, the local miller, also has designs on the young gypsy, and inevitably, the two men do not see eye to eye.

Betsey is drawn into their rivalry for the attention of the beautiful young woman, and she finds herself promising to keep a dangerous secret for many years to come.


Best Book Editors Review

One of the best books I’ve read this year.

Reminiscent of Catherine Cookson books—I’d go so far as to say that if you read a book from both authors, you wouldn’t be able to tell them apart in terms of story quality or writing style, Betsy is up there with any work of Ms Cookson’s. I adored every word of this story.  

We follow the life of a young girl from birth to marriage. The writing has a gentle and genteel period style to it—but that sits in contradiction to the story which is anything but gentle. It is so beautifully written that the horrendous young life Betsy endured is, if anything, understated—and yet the words are all there, and are written as gritty as they need to be, but cloaked in a quiet grace. It was the time and the world they lived in and if there wasn’t enough food to go around, well you just made the best of it, didn’t you?

I didn’t think I could be surprised by much, but young ladies and their cockle bread! Don’t look it up–just read it.  

I could go on, I can’t praise this book highly enough. Gorgeous, rich, hard and gritty writing that flows on the page like Galaxy Chocolate.

Highly recommended.




Product Review
Prequel to a compelling series
: The Hartford Manor series just gets better and better. I must confess, this the last (or is it the first?) is the best of a very fine series of books – and my favourite. It is difficult to not feel sympathy for young Betsey and her awful life and you soon grow to love the little girl. Her trials and tribulations are heartbreaking. The first part of the novel charts her early life and running alongside it is the mystery at the centre of the Fellwood family. Some 14 years separate the next part when Betsey is a grown woman. Life is never fair in the village where poverty besets its inhabitants and there is a divide between them that have and those that don’t. The novel handles each side of the divide admirably. Betsey is a prequel to the three Hartford Manor books and fills in some gaps or better still, some curiosities, that are presented in the other books and especially in the last, The Rabbit’s Foot. Together they make for a compelling read and each book is capable of standing on its own. Betsey is a well-written tale, there are moments of history in the text that I personally loved, and the story is a heartfelt tale that will move the reader. The series is highly recommended and one that I loved reading. Well done to the author.



About the Author

A farmer’s daughter, Marcia Clayton, was born in North Devon, a rural and picturesque area in the far South West of England. When she left school, Marcia worked in a bank for several years until she married her husband, Bryan, and then stayed at home for a few years to care for her three sons, Stuart, Paul, and David. As the children grew older, Marcia worked as a Marie Curie nurse caring for the terminally ill and later for the local authority managing school transport. Now a grandmother, Marcia enjoys spending time with her family and friends. She is a keen researcher of family history, and this hobby inspired some of the characters in her books. Marcia and Bryan are keen gardeners and grow many of their own vegetables. An avid reader, Marcia can often be found with her nose in a book when she should be doing something else! Her favourite genres are historical fiction, romance, and crime. Marcia has written five books in the historical family saga, “The Hartford Manor Series”, and is working on the sixth. Besides writing books, Marcia produces blogs to share with her readers in a monthly newsletter.



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