I picked this book up before it was picked as a Richard and Judy title as I love historical fiction and the period interested me, having just finished a series on WW1.
This is a really melodramatic story. It is about growing up, challenging yourself, and the deep seated effects that childhood experiences can have upon you.
It is well written, pulls you into the history and atmosphere of the period and is multi layered. It will make a good bookgroup book.
After the novel I found myself, looking up the Crimea and the war as it seemed so extraordinary for Britain to go to war for this obscure place. I love books that challenge my perceptions and that increase my historical understanding. That said do not feel that this is a heavy tome. It is in effect a melodrama and a love story, and perhaps a study a two very different women and how their lives are shaped but not constrained by Victorian England.