Goodreads blurb: “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.”
I read this book through The Pigeonhole, a free online book club and read it with other readers on the web. It was split into 10 parts, called staves, emailed to me each day. I was able to leave comments throughout and interact with the others. There were photographs and comments and interactions with the author, Caitlin Davies, during this time, which really added to my whole reading experience.
Wow what a fabulous book this was, such an uplifting read. I almost missed this book on the Pigeonhole, as I thought it was a Victorian non-fiction book and really didn’t fancy a dry stuffy book. Well how wrong could I be, when I started discovered it was a wonderful novel based on the lives and exploits of two amazing Victorian lady swimming champions.
I don’t how the author did it, but every stave I read seemed to whizz by so incredibly quickly. Of course by then I was desperate for the next day to come round so I could find out what Daisy Belle was going to accomplish next.
Daisy Belle was a wonderful character full of determination to be the best swimmer and performer she could be. I loved her feisty character and was desperate to read how she was going to turn around the difficult situations she found herself in. He brother Billy was also a wonderful character supporting her all the way through the book. Daisy’s Father Professor Belle, well he quite something, brought to life so brilliantly by the author!!
Caitlin Davis writing brought Daisy and the era to life so completely, that I could envision the whole story in my mind as I was reading it. It was fascinating to read about the etiquette and manners of these Victorian lady champions and how they were perceived by the man and women of the era. Their feats were so daring that it’s hard to believe that they were even allowed to perform during those stuffy Victorian days.
A wonderful book for anyone who wants to read an uplifting story based on the lives of two incredible Victorian women. I’ll definitely be recommending this to family and friends and given the chance complete strangers!