Posted in Writing





In the 18th century, Dawnay Price is an anomaly.  An educated foundling, a woman of science in a time when such things are unheard of, she overcomes her origins to become a natural philosopher.

Against the conventions of the day, and the alarm of her male contemporaries, she sets sail to Portugal to develop her theories.  There she makes some startling discoveries – not only in an ancient cave whose secrets hint as a previously undiscovered civilization, but also in her own heart.  The siren call of science is powerful, but as war approaches she finds herself pulled in another direction by feelings she cannot control.

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Rebecca Mascull lives by the sea in the east of England with her partner Simon and their daughter Poppy.  She has previously worked in education and has a Masters in Writing.  SONG OF THE SEA MAID is her second novel.




Dawney Price starts life with every disadvantage.  As her story commences she is a nameless child whose brother is taken by a press gang, abandoning her alone on the streets of London.  All that she is left with is the piece of paper he pressed into her hand before he was taken with words on it she cannot read.

Trying to survive on the streets she attempts to steal a gentleman’s wig but is apprehended by the wearer and taken to the Asylum for Destitute Wretches.  The Matron at the asylum gives her the name Dawney Price.  Dawney after the gentleman who brought her there and Price because the piece of paper her brother gave her reads ‘Price 1d’.  Dawney proves to be a curious and talented child, who breaks the asylum rule of only being allowed to learn reading and mathematics by secretly teaching herself to write.  She is brought before the asylum’s founder and his committee expecting punishment. Instead one of them, Markem Woods, a rich merchant offers to sponsor her education under the tutelage of his friend Stephen Appleby.

By the age of twenty three Dawney is a well-educated young woman living a comfortable life.  But her curiosity about the world beyond London sees her persuading Woods to sponsor a trip to Lisbon so she may make a six month expedition to the Berlengas Islands.  A passage booked aboard a research ship sees her first meeting with its captain, Robin Alexander, someone who will play an important role in her future.

Written from Dawney’s viewpoint the book opens a whole window onto eighteenth century life in London.  There terrible poverty and the asylum attempts to education orphan girls to ensure they found jobs rather than an existence on the streets.  However, no one gets to follow their dreams; their work aspirations are limited to the dictates of We travel with Dawney to Lisbon and then to the islands she is so keen to investigate.  Returning to Lisbon she survives an earthquake and a tidal wave. Eventually she travels on to Minorca. There she not only finds the fabled mermaid often spoken of, but love as well.

I absolutely loved this book.  From the first page it made compelling reading, drawing you into Dawney’s eighteenth century world in vivid detail. She’s a great heroine; quite fearless – not afraid to question as a child or challenge as an adult.  In the historical period she lived, she was a unique young woman, breaking most, if not all of society’s rules in a male dominated world.  A wonderful story.

I would like to thank Hodder and Stoughton for donating a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.




Directs fictional destinies. Living on the edge of a wonderful Georgian city. Addicted to Arthurian legend, good wine, and rock music. Writes...mostly about love

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