It’s 1919, and Louisa Cannon dreams of escaping her life of poverty in London, and most of all her oppressive and dangerous uncle.
Louisa’s salvation is a position within the Mitford household at Asthall Manor, in the Oxfordshire countryside. There she will become nursery maid, chaperone and confidante to the Mitford sisters, especially sixteen year old Nancy – an acerbic, bright young woman in love with stories.
But when a nurse – Florence Nightingale Shore, goddaughter of her famous namesake-is killed on a train in broad daylight, Nancy and amateur sleuth Louisa find that in postwar England, everyone has something to hide…
I really purchased this book as I was given the third book in the series by netgalley to review, but I wanted to start at the beginning although the books can be read as stand alone, I like to know about the characters and how they develop. Jessica Fellowes is the niece of Downton Abbey’s creator Julian Fellowes. This book is set just after World War One and it’s what I would call a cozy mystery, I like the fact that in this book are real life events and figures from the era. One of the characters Nancy Mitford is drawn from a real life character, Nancy and her sisters were celebrated figures in Britain, their scandalous lives and writings drew much attention.
The story itself or parts of it are based on a real true story, Louisa Cannon lives at home with her mum, and a very unpleasant uncle, they are living in basic poverty in London. Louisa decides to get out she applied for a job to work for the Mitford family as a maid and companion to the Nanny, she has a mad dash to try and get to her interview but arrived late, she was put up for the night, and was lucky enough to be given the job the following day. She becomes a friend and confidante to the oldest Mitford Girl Nancy who at this stage is between 16-18 years old. Nancy sees Louisa of being a way to help her escape the confines of being in society.
Florence Nightingale Shore, related to Florence Nightingale, is a nurse and is on a train at the same time as Louisa, but they don’t know each other. But their lives become entwined when Florence Nightingale Shore is found murdered on the train and Louisa gets dragged into investigating the murder with Nancy.
There are some fun moments in this book that I enjoyed, especially when Nancy goes against her parents and attends a ball that she is not really old enough to attend yet, Dragging Louisa along with her.
Louisa is constantly on edge worrying about her uncle finding her as he had wanted her to do things she certainly didn’t want to do, but if she has stayed I don’t think she would have been given a choice. Louisa also met the transport policeman that she seemed to take a liking to so there may be future romance to come in following books.
If you are just looking for a cozy mystery to curl up with, then I recommend this, if you are looking for a gritty crime story then this is not for you. I personally enjoy both sometimes a bit of light reading in between gruesome crime novels can be refreshing.
I’m looking forward to more books in this set I have the second book to read and have the third book to review.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jessica Fellowes is an author, journalist and public speaker, best known for her work as author of five official companion books to Downton Abbey, various of which have hit the New York Times and Sunday Times bestseller lists. Former deputy editor of Country Life and columnist on the Mail on Sunday, she has written for publications including the Daily Telegraph, the Guardian, The Sunday Times and The Lady. Jessica has spoken at events across the UK and US, and has made numerous appearances on radio and television. She lives happily in London and Oxfordshire with her family, an energetic Labradoodle and two chickens.