I really enjoy this series and just happened to see this on the shelf at the library and was delighted to see it existed. My mom tells me that there is an even newer one that I missed, Christmas themed. In this installment Lady Georgianna is invited (commanded) to represent the royal family at a royal wedding in Transylvania. She is excited about the travel, especially because the bride is having a Parisian dressmaker make her gown. Free food and clothes! Hooray! A few stumbling blocks, though. She needs a maid and ends up with the worst maid ever, Queenie, and is assigned a travel companion (who has her own traveling companion!) who is quite stern.
They finally arrive in Transylvania to find that the castle is extremely remote and terrifying. Bowen manages to convincingly get all the usual characters to happen to be at the castle too, so we have the fun of meeting new people and having fun folks like Belinda and the dreamy Darcy around. The castle is so spooky that of course Georgie is worried about vampires, and even more so when strange things happen-like waking up in the middle of the night and finding a pale young man standing over her. We all know a murder will happen (as this is a mystery series) and it does in the form of a nasty man dropping dead at a big formal dinner. At first presumed to be a heart attack, it is quickly realized to have been cyanide. Because the wedding is a few days away and they want to avoid an international incident, they decide to hide the truth. And since a convenient giant snow has trapped everyone in the castle, that makes this book a “bottle episode” (in tv parlance!) So, no one can go anywhere and it stands to reason the killer is among them. Georgie sets about amateur sleuthing.
I liked this, but not quite as much as the others. Perhaps because I had a hard time getting my head around the time period and location which seemed to clash ancient things and modern things together, plus Romania, Bulgaria, Transylvania-presumably there was actual history there, but it was slightly confusing. Nonetheless, Georgie was as delightful as ever, as were all the other characters. I didn’t care for the vampire worries-that just seemed silly.
I loved Morton’s book, The Forgotten Garden, and though I missed out on the book in between that and this newest, when I saw she had a new book coming out I put it on hold. Not even knowing what it was about! Just opening the book and looking at the endpapers gave me a shiver of delightful anticipation-an attic of old trunks and furs in sepia.What secrets will there be?
Like The Forgotten Garden this is a long story, told from a couple of different points of view in different time periods, which patch together to unfold and reveal a family’s secrets. It even also had Australia and a long ship journey in it to England, as I believe that one did. I thought this was wonderfully put together.
Laurel Nicholson’s mother, Dorothy, is elderly and dying. Laurel feels that before her mother dies she must know the truth about something she has not talked about ever-that as a teenager she saw Dorothy kill a man who came to their house. It was never spoken of, but Laurel must know what happened. Dorothy told the police he was a stranger who came after her, but Laurel, watching unseen from the treehouse, distinctly heard the man address her by name. Why did she lie about knowing him? Laurel attempts to draw the story out of her mother, but can only get bits and pieces. They lead her to research and she is able to start piecing some things together. Meanwhile, you, the reader, get to read the story of Dorothy and Vivien and Jimmy, young people in London during WWII. We see what Dorothy’s early life was like, how she made her way to London and fell in love with Jimmy. I really liked the way the story was not told in a linear fashion at all. It was like each section of the story, told at a different time or from a different character’s p.o.v., was a puzzle piece, and it was not until the end that they all fit together. And when they do? What a marvelous payoff.
Besides being a a great mystery about family secrets, I thought this was a wonderful story about WWII and living in London and trying to start your adult life during the war. There was so much tenderness between the parents and children, at various stages of life-Jimmy caring for his dotty old dad, Laurel caring for her dying mother, Dorothy as a young mother caring for Laurel. I thought this was beautifully written and really enjoyed every part of this story. It’s definitely a long and engrossing one-I admit I stopped right in the middle for two days to read Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore.
I read this way back in August and gave it 5 stars. I loved it and can remember some details of what I liked, but do wish I had written about it in my emails so I could dig up some remarks fresh from reading it.
Well, first of all it’s all written in letters (diary?) and it’s about a middle aged woman in a little village in Surrey. At first it seems like a pretty typical gossipy, oh the bell ringing choir is so important, type of novel, but it’s so much more than that, which is what I liked. For example, it is painfully obvious to EVERYONE, including the reader, that when she finds the lithe Lithuanian’s undergarments in her husband’s things that it’s not a laundry mixup. It’s equally obvious that her son is gay, but she seems oblivious. Contstance is a character who seems to be pitied and laughable, but she ends up on a journey of self discovery, which includes pride and adventure, and proves that she’s not a middle aged lady to be laughed at. I really liked how Radford made her an admirable character, and the adventures and revelations at the end were quite surprising and charming. It was a very satisfying novel.
This was a nice cozy book, funny, but a little too long. In a British village Poppy, mother to two, finds herself suddenly widowed and it’s…a bit of a relief. Her husband was a total ass. It’s actually a bit awkward to try to pretend to be bereaved because she’s really not. But then out come the secrets-Phil had been having an affair and his hussy mistress wants part of the estate. This brings up all sorts of conflicting emotions, hijinx, and so on. I found it extremely maddening that the mistress’s lawsuit seemed to be a genuine threat. I mean, really? I felt like Poppy needed better representation. The hunt scene (horses) is totally fascinating. Like I said, good, but just a bit too long.
I loved The Tower, the Tortoise, and the Zoo, so when I saw she had another book out I had to try it. More than that, when I saw the cover I was immediately attracted because I recognized the artwork as being by Allison Jay, and it was just perfect for this title.
Much like The Tower.. it is filled with fascinating details about a very specific (and very bizarre to a 21st century American) place in England, specifically the grace-and-favor cottages in Victorian England. These “cottages” are residences in a big estate, owned by the Queen, and given rent free to certain individuals. In this case one is offered to an Indian princess.In fact, she was born and raised in England, but her late father (who died in a rather bawdy manner) was an ousted Maharajah. So right there are all sorts of exotic details. So she moves into the residence with her stalwart servant and delves into the gossipy community of mostly widowers and widows and other genteely impoverished folk who bicker all the time. What’s funny and fascinating is that I read about three-quarters of the book picturing the princess hanging out with these elderly 70 and 80 year old women and then I found out they were in their late 30s!!
So after an Easter picnic a much disliked gentleman dies and it seems that he died from poisoning, specifically from the pigeon pie her maid made. It seems more and more likely that she will be arrested and executed for the crime, but the Princess is determined to solve the mystery. Meanwhile there are all sorts of very funny details and turns of phrase and the characters are a hoot. It’s a wonderful blend of peculiar history and fine writing. I really have no idea if she has a very wide audience, but she should.
I hadn’t been planning on listening to any of the 10 choices from the Amazing Audiobooks list for this reading challenge, but my friend lent it to me and I had four days of Tabby at “camp”, and I decided to buckle down and listen and sew. Because it’s British and funny I right away thought of my first very good audiobook experience-Bridget Jones’s Diary. This is the 10th and final installment in the Georgia Nicholson series and although I haven’t read more than the first three (and many years ago, at that), I had not trouble knowing what was going on.
Part of the fun of these books is how slangy and crazily dramatic Georgia is, and that came across great on audio. I think I’d like to adopt the expression “nervy B”, as in “I think I’m going to have a nervy B if you don’t stop bothering me!”
I am definitely not a very good audiobook listener– a few times I walked out of the room, answered the phone, etc. without even thinking about the fact that the story was still going on (and I didn’t even rewind because it didn’t seem like I missed anything.) I did listen during some very late night driving on an unexpectedly long car trip, and it was quite the life saver.
The narrator was fantastic and the book very funny.
In this installment Georgie returns to her home in Scotland to join a house party and keep an eye on the royal party, as members of the royal family keep narrowly missing deadly mishaps. Same format as before-embroiled in mystery, marvelous historical detail, a little romance and adventure.
In this installment Georgie begins a housecleaning service, difficult to juggle when she’s also hosting, at HRM’s request (command) a Bavarian princess who seems hell bent on getting into loads of trouble. There’s also a couple of suspicious deaths, including one at a swanky party (so Noel Coward that he himself is there) and Georgie is all caught up in it.
Just as delightful as the first!
This is the first in a terrific light historical mystery series. This first volume has a lot of set up of how Lady Georgiana finds herself in London. You see, she usually lives in Scotland at the family home, where her brother is the Duke. She is 34th (I think?) in line to the throne, so is part of the Royal Family and of that class. So it’s a total drag then that she and brother are quite poor. She certainly can’t work, because her class does not do that. She can’t ask the Queen for a handout, because that’s poor form, too. She decides to at least try to make it on her own in London (at the family home, where she must live without a maid).
When a dead man is found in her bathtub it’s hard to keep a low profile, especially since her brother is the most likely suspect. She endeavors to solve the mystery, all while keeping the royal name untarnished.
In addition to this being funny and Georgie being a likable character, I absolutely loved the historical detail. I usually read British historicals set during the Regency, so the 1930s is a new era for me and it was filled with all the things you might expect, as well as some you don’t. For example, it never occurred to me that people were riding the Underground in the early 30s! Also, there is quite a bit in all the books I’ve read thus far (the first three) about Wallace Simpson and Edward, and the angle on it is very different from anything romantic I’d ever read before.
I loved the Little Lady Agency books and was delighted when I saw this on the picked over shelves at Borders in its final days. The premise is that Evie Nicholson works for an antiques buyer and heads off to her sister Louise’s boyfriend’s Scottish estate to appraise the contents of the neighbor’s house (they need to sell some stuff to pay for upkeep, don’t you know.) Handsome men ensue. There were two interesting things about this book that I loved and gave it a lot interest and appeal.
The first is that Scottish dancing is a central part of the story. Evie and her sister are terrible dancers, but Evie is pressed into subbing for her sister at a big fancy annual gala where she will need to correctly dance some crazy Highland dances. After reading all about them I went straight to YouTube to view videos of these dances. And I dearly wished that I was part of something so steeped in tradition. <sigh>
The other is that Evie’s quirky character trait is that she is kind of a crappy antiques buyer because she looooooooves the past. Is simply in love with daydreams and stories of what role an inanimate object might have played in someone’s life. Getting to stay in the old castle practically makes her swoon. I loved every one of her little daydreams because I am the same way and it all seemed totally reasonable to me. How could you not descend the staircase in a castle without imagining yourself in the splendor candlelight with handsome Duke waiting for you? How could you not look at an old writing desk without imagining what letters might have been written on it?
The romance angle of this actually kept me guessing a bit. I felt like I knew who she was meant to end up with, but kept doubting it. So good for you, Hester Browne!