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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
“I was twenty-one years old when I sold my baby.” A powerful admittance from a young woman, Isabelle. There may be all kinds of reasons why someone would sell their baby, but Isabelle’s story is unique. Coming from a working-class background in the late nineteenth century, Isabelle had one dream; to sing opera at Covent Garden in London. She had a beautiful voice and she knew she was opera material. But, first, she needed to study music at the Royal Academy. Without a scholarship and only a small income from teaching music and a young boy to care for (she was already a widow, her husband having died in a mining accident), she didn’t have the means to pursue her dreams. That is until Mrs. Holland placed the advertisement and Isabelle answered.
Julia Bell’s romance novel, Songbird: The Songbird Story Book One, is a passionate story of one woman’s quest. The story is written in the first-person narrative, from Isabelle’s point of view, and reads like an autobiography filled with first-hand experiences and compelling passages of dialogue. The plot follows Isabelle’s career as she makes the difficult decision which helps fund her training until she meets again the couple who purchased her baby. It sounds cold, but worse things have happened throughout history. This story isn’t one to condemn a woman’s decision, but rather to help her come to terms with it and to live her life to the fullest, even if the regrets remain buried deep in her memories. The author knows her music, her history, and provides the reader with a powerful sense of place as the setting is well developed. A fascinating historical read from that intense first line that catches the reader’s attention: “I was twenty-one years old when I sold my baby.” As first lines go, this one’s a clincher.