The Light Among Us: The Story of Elizabeth Carne, Cornwall
By: Jill George with John Dirring
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Publication Date: August 2022
Reviewed by: Trix Lee-Rainwater
Review Date: August 1, 2022
In the 19th century, when women struggled to gain equal credibility with men in the business world, how would one heiress with no formal educational degree manage to surpass the societal expectations and stay true to her life’s mission? We’ll find out in The Light Among Us by Jill George with John Dirring.
It was 1832 and it was the first time for 15-year-old Elizabeth Carne to accompany her father on a walking tour with a famous author from London. Elizabeth’s father, Joseph Carne, was a successful banker, industrialist, and mining company partner, among many other titles, and he was keen to present his daughter as living proof of the premise that education for women would improve civilization. Elizabeth indeed was living proof as she demonstrated her deep knowledge of geology and local history. This impressed their guest but nothing was unexpected as it turned out that Elizabeth had been studying with her father over the years. During this walking tour, Joseph Carne also mentioned that he planned for Elizabeth to take a position in his bank, something that greatly surprised Elizabeth considering the restrictive norms of society regarding the roles of women. Three years thereafter, Joseph Carne was fully set to bring up Elizabeth as his heir apparent. Elizabeth’s insights on potential business prospects and investments were welcomed by her father but, behind her back, several seasoned businessmen were simply jesting about courting the heiress as a new wife. This was the beginning of Elizabeth’s struggle in not only establishing a name for herself but also creating a space for women in society.
Elizabeth was only eighteen and fully set on a mission to not only continue with donations as her grandfather and father had done for years but to help out impoverished communities in a more meaningful way. She first met the mine purser Henry Pearce during one of her visits to the Wheal Alfred mine. Eventually she requested his aid in her mission. They fell in love with each other but Elizabeth had to decline Henry’s love due to the systemic class divide - her being an heiress, and him being from a lower class. Henry eventually got married and inadvertently got involved in a smuggling situation. Despite Elizabeth’s own struggles, her ever-present love for Henry propelled her to action.
The Light Among Us by Jill George and John Dirring is a well-researched historical fiction novel about a non-fictional brilliant woman, Elizabeth Carne, and how she bravely challenged the norms of 19th-century society to fulfill her life’s mission to create a society that’s equal for all. Elizabeth was a remarkable character with equally remarkable personal values, fighting for education for everyone even during her teenage years. There were several other commendable characters such as Mr. Bodilly Sr. with his unerring conviction and support for Elizabeth when their bank’s clients were undermining her capability solely because she was a woman. Mr. Bodilly Sr. and what he represents are what we need in any society, in any era. I thought that the romance between Henry and Elizabeth was not established properly but I paid it no mind because this story was more than a love story. The love that struck me the most wasn’t the love between Elizabeth and Henry but rather, Elizabeth’s love for purpose and learning. Overall, this was a motivational story that encouraged me to research more about the life and contributions of this remarkable woman, Elizabeth Carne.
Quill says: This is an inspiring historical fiction novel about a real-life woman pioneer fighting to fulfill her life’s missions in the middle of restrictive 19th-century English society.
For more information on The Light Among Us: The Story of Elizabeth Carne, Cornwall,please visit the author's website at: www.jillgeorgeauthor.com
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