Summer 1867: four-year-old Daisy Belle is about to make her debut at the Lambeth Baths in London. Her father, swimming professor Jeffery Belle, is introducing his Family of Frogs – and Daisy is the star attraction. By the end of that day, she has only one ambition in life: she will be the greatest female swimmer in the world.
She will race down the Thames, float in a whale tank, and challenge a man to a 70-foot high dive. And then she will set sail for America to swim across New York Harbour.
But Victorian women weren’t supposed to swim, and Daisy Belle will have to fight every stroke of the way if she wants her dreams to come true.
Inspired by the careers of Victorian champions Agnes Beckwith and Annie Luker, Daisy Belle is a story of courage and survival and a tribute to the swimmers of yesteryear.
Daisy Belle is published on the 1st September 2018 in ebook and paperback. You can pre-order a copy of both here.
This is a fantastic book, based on real people which I always love. The author has a great way of transporting the reader to the Victorian era including lots of little details into the story about life then which helped bring the era to life. The attitude towards woman and the blatant sexism made my blood boil at times and I felt very indignant for Daisy and everything she had to fight for. It’s hard to believe that life was like that one day but good to realise how far we have come.
Daisy is a brilliant character and I so admired her drive and determination to get what she wants. She shows such amazing courage at times in the book not just during the show but with standing up for herself against quite fierce opposition which took guts. I found myself cheers for her every step of the way, willing her to succeed and being delighted when she did which is always a sign of a great character!
The writting in the book has a lovely flow to it which makes it quite an easy read. It’s not obviously fast flowing but there is lots of stuff happening that ensures the reader wants to keep reading. The pace of the book is such that the reader gets the opportunity to really get to know Daisy and fully immersed themselves in the swimming world. I’d never read of some of the events or practices in this book so I found the historical detail very interesting and have since looked up the real swimmers the book is based on to find out more.
This is the first book by this author I have read and I look forward to reading more from her in the future as she definitely knows how to write great historical fiction which is my favourite genre.
Huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me onto the blog tour and to Unbound publishers for my copy of this book. If you like well written, fascinating historical fiction based on real characters then you’ll love this book.
About The Author:
Caitlin Davies was born in London in 1964. She spent 12 years in Botswana as a teacher and journalist and many of her books are set in the Okavango Delta, including a memoir Place of Reeds, described by Hilary Mantel as ‘candid and unsentimental’.
Her novels include The Ghost of Lily Painter, a fictional account of the arrest and execution of two Edwardian baby farmers, and Family Likeness about the fate of ‘war babies’ born to African American GI fathers in England during World War Two.
Her non-fiction books include Taking the Waters: A Swim Around Hampstead Heath, a celebration of 200 years of outdoor bathing, an illustrated history of the world famous Camden Lock Market, and Downstream: a history and celebration of swimming the River Thames.
Her latest non-fiction is Bad Girls, and her latest novel is Daisy Belle: Swimming Champion of the World, based on the lives of several Victorian aquatic stars, to be published by Unbound on September 1, 2018.
She is also a teacher and journalist, and was a regular feature writer for The Independent’s education and careers supplement. From 2014-17 she was a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the University of Westminster, Harrow, in the faculty of Media, Arts & Design.
Her website is http://www.caitlindavies.co.uk/
Daisy Belle Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/DaisyBelleSwimmingChampionoftheWorld/