Eve is a twelve year old girl of East African descent living in sixteenth century Southwark with her mother who had been snatched from her home in Mozambique.
When a Thames wherry (ferry boat) taking them to St Bartholemew’s fair capsizes and Eve falls overboard her mother dives in to rescue her. Her skill as a diver is spotted and she is offered the strange opportunity to make her fortune by retrieving treasure from wrecked ships off the South coast. The first step is to find an African diver; Jacques Francis, who had been involved in salvaging treasure from Henry VIII’s flag ship The Mary Rose and is likely to know the site of the other ships. Their journey from London to Southampton in search of him involves many dangers; they are tricked, robbed and threatened and find themselves in ever increasing debt. However, they do find some kindness and are offered a temporary home with a widow in return for helping care for her daughter. Eve searches for the former diver, hoping he will enable them to pay off their debts. She finds him living under an assumed name working for an apothecary. However, he is reluctant to help or even admit to his former life. It is only when Eve is snatched herself from the streets of Southampton by Portuguese sailors that Jacques steps in to help. An exciting climax leads to a happy ending for Eve, her mother and their new friend.
The sights, sounds and smells of sixteenth century England are brought vividly to life in this beautifully written, fast-paced historical novel. Shocking aspects of Tudor life such as tarred heads on spikes and women pinned by the ear to pillars as a punishment are not shied away from.
Diver’s Daughter is based on a true story. Jacques Francis was in fact an African diver involved in retrieving the treasures of the Mary Rose. This is one of a new series from Scholastic highlighting previously untold stories which uncover the diversity of our history. A gripping and satisfying read.