I have loved Judith Miller's writings ever since I read her book The Carousel Painter. Her books just work for me. I've read many of them and jumped at the chance to read The Brickmaker's Bride, simply because Judith wrote it. I was not disappointed, except for one thing--Laura's secret--while at first it is mentioned in passing, it becomes a bigger deal than it should have been, however this is not a deal-breaker for the book.
The personalities in the book are strong people: Laura -- a young woman who lives with her mother
Mrs. Woodfield -- Laura's mother and owner of the brickyard
Winston -- the attorney who is officially courting Laura
Ewan -- the nephew of the man who wishes to buy the brickyard, and a bit more level headed than his uncle
Hugh -- the buyer of the brickyard and consummate gambler. He's very impulsive in his business dealings.
Maggie -- sharp-tongued wife of Hugh, a social climber
Kathleen -- Maggie's sister and Maggie's choice for Ewan's wife
Some of the lesser characters are Ewan's sisters, the children of the orphanage, Mr Lofton, the banker, and the workers at the brickyard.
For most of the book, Maggie sounds more like a fishwife than the genteel woman she wants people to believe she is. She spews venom at anyone who dares to thwart her desires or stands in her way. When Kathleen becomes pregnant, she casts her sister out of her house and refuses to speak to her. When Ewan and Hugh are invited to the Woodfields' home for dinner and she's not included in the invitation, she throws a temper tantrum worthy of a two-year-old. Her desires to be accepted in genteel society reminds me too much of Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced "Boo Kay") from Keeping Up Appearances.
Laura's gentle nature, her love for children and family, and her ability to see the best in people are two of the traits that draw the reader in and that draw Ewan to her. Even though she'd be a beautiful trinket on Winston's arm for his political ambitions, she knows she doesn't love Winston and she quickly comes to the conclusion that Winston's ideas and ideals are not what she stands for and to marry him would be the biggest mistake of her life.
Winston and Hugh are very much alike in that they are willing to take advantage of others, especially if it will line their own pockets in the process. The dealings that both men engage in are just barely legal and quite shady, but neither man cares.
Judith Miller knows how to engage the reader early and not let go until the book is done. She's done this many times and each time she writes a book, her craft is perfected even more. This should be a ten star book, but I can only give it Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and the best-made brick you've ever seen.
Bethany House provided the book through NetGalley for me to read and give my honest review. These opinions are my own and no compensation was offered or accepted in exchange for my review.