The World from Rough Stone is the first of the four-volume Stevenson Saga, written by Malcolm MacDonald. It tells the story of two ambitious but poor young people who, at the very start of the Victorian Era (1839) combine their considerable talents to found a dynasty and go on to fame and fortune.
This story is set in very early Victorian England from 1839 to 1841 against a backdrop of railroad building and and the economic upheavals this revolutionary form of transportation caused in it’s youngest phase.
When they first meet, John Stevenson is a navvy foreman working on the Summit Tunnel of the Manchester & Leeds Railway. A near-fatal accident brings young Nora Telling into his life. Her nimbleness of mind and his power of command enable them to take over the working, with John now as main contractor, and rescue it from catastrophe…
Without seeming anachronistic MacDonald has written a book that delves into Historical fiction with abandon and does it well. Everything – even the different dialects spoken in the different regions of England are there, lending even more realism to this story of John and Nora Stevenson. However, it was just that – the dialects – that almost made me put the book down.
On more than one occasion I voiced my displeasure of having to “slog thru” portions of dialogue that needed to be deciphered before I could continue on. I did not give up though and was rewarded with a delightful story with more depth than I had anticipated.
Over all the book was really enjoyable to read, but I think if you don’t have the stomach to work through what you are reading then this book is not for you.