Still very behind with book reviews so this is another quick catch-up post.
First up, A Quiet Month in the Country by T.E. Kinsey. This is my 6th. book for Marg's Historical Fiction challenge.
It's 1908 and Lady Hardcastle and her maid, Florence Armstrong, have retired to the countryside. They have purportedly lived quite a colourful life: you get hints as the book goes along of them being stranded in China and having to make their way to India on their own. Anyway, they think they're moving to get a quiet life but naturally it doesn't work out that way after they find a body hanging from a tree in the woods. They get involved in the investigation and Inspector Sunderland, the officer in charge, is content to let them help solve this mystery involving murder, missing jewels, engagements and even cricket. This was a light, fun read which I enjoyed more for the banter between the two women than anything else. It's clear their relationship is not the traditional employer/maid one as they've been through an awful lot together. Lady Hardcastle is nothing if not eccentric and Florence is into martial arts so that makes the whole thing even more intriguing and I plan to read on in the series to find out more about these two women.
Next, Above the Bay of Angels by Rhys Bowen. This is my 7th. book for Marg's Historical Fiction challenge.
Isabella Waverly is witness to a road accident on the streets of London and the young woman involved dies as Bella tries to comfort her. In her hand the woman is holding a letter which Bella reads and sees is a letter of introduction to the kitchens of Buckingham Palace. The dead woman, Helen Barton, was about to take up a position as an under cook there. Unhappy in her own position as a cook in another household, Bella decides to become Helen and thus begins quite an adventure. It eventually sees her in the south of France, learning the secrets of French cuisine from the head chef of Queen Victoria's custom-built hotel in Nice. It also sees her desperate to keep the secret of her real identity, that of a daughter to an aristocratic father who lost everything due to alcohol and who, penniless, had to go into service. And then one of the royal family's German relations is poisoned and things become even more complicated than they already are because Bella is now one of the suspects. This is my first book by popular author, Rhys Bowen. I found it very readable, if slightly far-fetched, but that didn't spoil my enjoyment at all. I loved the setting of the French Riviera, Queen Victoria was well drawn and all of the details of her household were as I have read from non-fiction books. I loved the descriptions of the huge meals and how they were prepared - no expense spared! There was enough in the way of intrigue and secrets to keep me happy and all in all I enjoyed this one very much.
Lastly a non-fiction book, Faring to France on a Shoe by Val Poore.
I wish I could say that brings me up to date but it doesn't. So, more soon!