It's the middle of the 18th Century, and Dawnay Price, who had been found on the streets of London as a a tiny child, filthy, bedraggled, starving is handed over by her finder and benefactor into the care of an orphanage until old enough to be passed to employment as a maid or seamstress, seeing as that was all girl orphans were apparently fit for. But Dawnay Price is desperate to learn. To learn about things, to learn how to find out about those things, and of course to write. Because the orphans get taught how to read, but what good is writing to a kitchen maid or such? By stealing ink, quill and paper she starts to copy words out in the dead of night, thinking that no-one knows....... And this is only the start of her wonderful adventure, travelling to Portugal in her early twenties to do research, travelling on to Minorca to do the same.
I really liked the style of writing, because it seemed whilst reading that it really was true to 18th Century prose but still easy to read. Her notes afterwards will tell you how the author achieved this. It's written in the present tense and the first person which worked really well for me. What also worked well was the weaving of real life happenings into Dawnay's story (did you know that Lisbon was nearly totally destroyed by an earthquake and tidal wave in the 1750s?) so if you like historical fiction, you may find that this is just the kind of read you'll enjoy.
Just a PS about this cover. Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! Downay dressed down, as we'd say now. She never wore the kind of dress shown on the cover, indeed she was a very plain dresser and usually wore her hair inside a cotton cap. One doesn't wear a party frock whilst looking at the ocean floor - ever!