Thursday, 23 November 2017

A Pearl for My Mistress - Annabel Fielding

A story of class, scandal and forbidden passions in the shadow of war. Perfect for fans of Iona Grey, Gill Paul and Downton Abbey.

England, 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 pressures of the new century. And in the cold isolation of these new surroundings, Hester ends up hopelessly besotted with her young mistress, Lady Lucy.

Accompanying Lucy on her London Season, Hester is plunged into a heady and decadent world. But hushed whispers of another war swirl beneath the capital... and soon, Hester finds herself the keeper of some of society's most dangerous secrets...

What did I think?

I do love historical fiction and found it rather unusual that this book was set in 1934; it's neither the roaring twenties nor wartime England, so I wondered what Annabel Fielding had found to write about.  Set 5 years before war breaks out in Europe, we are plunged into an England filled with secrets, lies and espionage.

This really is a tale of two characters; hardworking and honest, Hester who wears her heart on her sleeve and cold Lady Lucy whose heart is as cold as her hands.  Oh, behind closed doors she can show affection when she feels like it, but underneath I found her cold, manipulative and sneaky.  

Annabel Fielding totally and effortlessly immersed the reader in the 1930's era.  Hebden Hall  in Northumberland is struggling to keep its majestic head above water and the servants find themselves one of the luxuries the family can't afford.  I felt sometimes that Lucy probably used this to her advantage: Hester needed to keep her job so she would do anything to keep Lucy happy.  Not that Hester was forced into doing anything she didn't want to do, I just felt that she was played.  Sorry, Lucy!  Whether I was right or wrong in my early opinion of Lady Lucy, you'll just have to read the book to find out!

I find it so interesting to read historical fiction and experience the thoughts and feelings of another era.  In this day and age, we can't imagine that a mixed race or same sex couple, for example, would ever have to hide their relationship.  It's so good to see how far we have come over the years, albeit at a snail's pace, at improving understanding and acceptance.  

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

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