Author: Annabel Fielding
Publisher: Amazon KDP
Publication Date: 20. September 2016
Rating: 2/5. Stars
Diversity: LGBT characters
TW: antisemitism, racism, side-character death, nazism, nazi supporting MC, cheating, child abuse
Summary: Britain, 1934. Hester Blake, an ambitious girl from an industrial Northern town, finds a job as a lady’s maid in a small aristocratic household. Despite their impressive title and glorious past, the Fitzmartins are crumbling under the tribulations of the new century. In the cold isolation of these new surroundings, Hester ends up hopelessly besotted with her young mistress, Lady Lucy. Fragile and enthralling, Lucy can weave fascinating stories like a spider weaves her web. Armed with shrewd wits and an iron will to match, she is determined to carve out a new life for herself.
They are drawn to each other as kindred spirits, eager to take advantage of the new opportunities the world has to offer. Moreover, soon Hester gets to accompany Lady Lucy on her London Season, and readily plunges herself into the heady mix of passion, art and excitement of the glittering city.
However, there are plenty of dark undercurrents swirling beneath the majestic imperial capital. The country is rife with discontent, and radical political movements are growing in influence day by day. There is a controversy, surrounding the new dictatorships of Europe, and struggles are breaking out in the press as well as in the streets. The hushed whispers of yet another war are still rare, but the battle for hearts and minds has already started, and Lucy’s talent can be employed for very sinister ends.
Meanwhile, Hester seems to be harboring some secrets of her own…
Order here: amazon
Disclaimer: I received an e-copy of this book on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
When I requested this book I was instantly intrigued. A lady’s maid/mistress relationship set in England just before WWII sounded interesting. However the story let me down quite a bit.
Hester is a maid with big dreams. When she gets her first job as the maid of Lucy, the daughter of the Fitzmartins, she can already see herself climbing the social ladder and traveling the world with her mistress. Now the Fitzmartins are not the family she would choose for this, as they are relatively poor and unable to finance the travels Hester dreams of. She decides to work for Lucy for a couple of years and then leave for better employment. But then she falls in love with Lucy and the two girls start a secret affair. All could be well. But the rise of fascism and Lucy’s interest in them could easily tear the two girls apart.
Lucy is a rich Lady, living on her family’s estate, but also earning her own money with journalism. She is, however, not interested in writing about garden party’s as the newspaper’s expect her to. She would much rather write for the Blackshirts’ or support Herr Eugen von Frenzel, a german archaeologist, in his attempts to forge a union between Germany and England in order to prevent a war.
While I found the premise very interesting, the story dragged a lot. For it’s length actually very little seemed to be going on, which is sad. There are also a bunch of grammar mistakes. Plus in the e-copy that I received most of the punctuation marks were missing, which made it really hard to read at time, but I didn’t count that towards my rating. However I could see that if there had been quotation marks, a lot of the punctuation would have been placed outside of it as there were a lot of empty spaces between the end of a sentence and the punctuation.
The politics of the story are interesting and very well researched, as is the rest of the novel. You really feel as if you’re experiencing it. You can also see that Fielding is definitely passionate about this time and did a lot of research.
Lucy fascinated and repelled me both, she was definitely an interesting character, but a very terrifying one too (especially in times like these). I really liked Hester though, even if she choose the rose-tinted glasses a lot due to being so in love. Their relationship was very interesting, sweet at first and growing more and more bitter towards the end.
I enjoyed the storyline a lot, but I also had some problems with it, mainly the weird and abrupt jumps in time and point of view which made it hard to follow the story. They bothered me a lot and I had to reread sequences to realize what was going on.
I found Lucy’s villain story interesting and I like stories about what might make a woman a villain, but sadly this story did not convince me in the end.