In the musty attic of an upstate New York house, a woman finds a clasped box, hidden away for over a century. Inside, wrapped in cambric and tied with a green ribbon, is an old manuscript written by a girl dreaming of a better life, fighting for survival, and coming of age in a time of chaos and danger. This wondrously told tale is a stirring adventure set in nineteenth-century England, a novel of rich history and vibrant imagination.
Amid the lush fields and gardens of an English estate, in a kitchen where every meal is a sumptuous feast, a young servant called Paddy anxiously hides her true identity. Using coal soot and grease, she conceals her flaming head of red hair and covers her body, desperate to keep the job she needs to survive. But the girl, whose real name is Mina, cannot conceal from herself the pain of her past or the beauty of an Ireland she remembers with love and grief—until she meets a man who convinces her to trust him, a man hiding sorrows of his own.
To the mysterious Mr. Serle—the estate’s skilled and quiet chef—Mina dares to confess her true identity and reveal a shattered past: her flight from the blighted fields of her homeland to the teeming streets of Liverpool...her memories of the family she lost and dreams for the future. And as Mina and Mr. Serle begin to know each other, an extraordinary journey begins—a journey of faith and identity, adventure and awakening, that will alter the course of both their lives.
The sights and sounds of nineteenth-century England come vividly to life in Jonatha Ceely’s magnificent novel, a tale that explores the intricate relationship forged by two people in hiding. Moving and unforgettable, Mina is historical fiction at its finest—a novel that makes you think, feel, and marvel…until the last satisfying page is turned.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of eBook: Mina|
|Release Date: 03-30-2004|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Random House Publishing Group|
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Someone asks: What country, friends, is this? No answer. I open my eyes with a start. In the dim early-morning light, the world returns around me. I lie nestled in straw in the stable loft of a country estate. I look out a dormer window toward the soft hills that rise in a low ridge between the estate and the nearby village.
Below me the horses shift in their stalls. Their safe smell and their heat rises to me. It is dawn, and the sounds of the yards and the house awakening will begin in a few moments. This is the moment of stillness before the lark rises toward the rosy light raying up from the eastern horizon, toward the zenith of the clear spring sky.
My work begins as the lark flies up, singing from its meadow nest to greet the sun. I too rise. I begin not with a hymn to nature but with a visit to the outhouse, ablutions under the pump, a quick ordering of my garments.
Then I attend to the horses. They need water, clean straw, and grooming. But first I have something else to do.
I have a dream that recurs. It came to me again last night. I walk from the door of our croft into the field that slopes to the south. The land is green, green, green, like a velvet gown laid over a curving body. In my dream I tread lightly on the soft surface. I feel the spring of grass beneath my bare feet. As I pace down the slope of the field, I feel the warmth of the sun on my face and arms. All is pale blue above, green below, and a fresh wind blowing. I notice something growing in the field. Loaves of bread, golden-crusted. It is as if the corn had grown, been harvested, thrashed, ground, kneaded, baked all in a night—as if the bread grew ready to my