Throwback Thursday Review: The Rag Nymph – Catherine Cookson
In today’s Throwback Thursday review post, I am going to be discussing a book that I have actually read twice before I began my blog.
I wouldn’t say I have much in common with my mum’s reading preferences, but, there is the odd book we have in common. I’ll only read anything my mum has read if there’s a good degree of humour in it. The Rag Nymph certainly didn’t disappoint in that respect!
The Rag Nymph
In the heat of a late June afternoon in 1854, abandoned by a panic-stricken mother in an all-too-obvious flight from the law, Millie Forester bursts into Aggie Winkowski’s life like a bolt from the blue. Aggie, who was known locally as ‘Raggie Aggie’ for her long-established business of trading in rags and old clothes, knew well enough the dangers waiting for such a strikingly pretty girl left alone in this rough and vice-ridden quarter. She could see no alternative other than to take her in.
But what began as compassionate expediency led to a new relationship that would grow and deepen, moulding Millie’s destiny and giving new meaning to the life of Aggie Winkowski.
Millie Forester’s advance through the coming years to the threshold of womanhood is the core of The Rag Nymph, as gripping and socially concerned an historical novel as Catherine Cookson has ever written. Her superb skills of narrative and characterization provide a spectrum of the good and evil of the Victorian era, frankly confronting the terrible menace of child corruption, which remains a constant issue in our time now as it was then.
I think my enjoyment of this book stems from the Yorkshire heritage in my family. Raggie Aggie is so much like my mum, and her mum too, that standing in Millie’s shoes felt somewhat familiar. Aggie’s no-nonsense attitude is something I grew up with. The commonality was endearing. As hard-faced as Aggie can be (a product of growing up and scraping a living in difficult times), she is also a remarkably caring woman. She treats Millie as if she is her own and will protect her fiercely.
Millie, a pretty young girl and then woman finds herself attracting unwanted attention. Millie’s birth mother had fallen into the wrong hands and Aggie is determined that the same doesn’t happen to Millie. To this end, the content of the book isn’t all light humour. There is depravity and death, and folk with less-than-honest intentions.
I loved this book when I first read it years ago and I enjoyed it just as much second time around. The setting, the characters and the writing style are utterly brilliant. The book is from a genre I really enjoy reading and I don’t doubt that I’ll pick this up again in the future!