I’ve never been one for wanting to go back and relive periods in my life. For the most part, I’ve been content with moving forward, even though that entails aging. Life, for me, has been a series of adventures, most small by nature, but interesting to me at least.
I’ve had the opportunity to live in the Western United States and, for someone who is fifth generation Atlantan, that’s quite an adventure. Being a native of Atlanta, especially one who resided there as well, the West was an adventure of it’s own. It was interesting to me to experience what it was like to be in the wide open spaces where I knew no one, especially after having grown up in an area of Atlanta where everyone knew me and my family.
The contrast between the West and the Deep South was both significant and non-existent at the same time. The people were just as friendly and open as they had been in the South. I made lots of friends, learned how to drive in snow, and was active in my children’s school until we moved back to Atlanta. All those, except for the snow, were things I would have expected to do in the deep South as well. The difference was that people were not as interested in who your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. were in the West as they were in Atlanta. Beyond that, they were much more casual in their dress, with everyone wearing jeans much of the time instead of the slacks and shirts I was used to…and I don’t even want to talk about the collection of cameos that I owned and wore regularly in the South. Cameos don’t exactly mesh with jeans and down jackets.
Still, I enjoyed the opportunity to experience a different life and a different lifestyle. After twelve years, we decided to return home. There’s something about having roots so deep you just know that’s where you belong. Unfortunately. in the twelve years we were gone, Atlanta turned into a generic metropolitan area, too big, too busy, too impersonal for my tastes. After a few years we moved on, but this time deeper south to a smaller place in south Georgia.
I’m happy here. The slower pace suits me and the people speak my language for the most part. There are some fundamental differences still, but I choose to go my own way with those and acknowledge there will be some differences no matter where you live. You might say I decided to live where you can grow good tomatoes in the summer, and enjoy lots of old-fashioned vegetable dinners with peas and corn, etc. It isn’t the food itself, though, it’s my roots and my deep seated feeling of being “home.
So, I no longer desire to live elsewhere, but I still enjoy the occasional foray into a different world. Sometimes that takes the form of a trip to wherever, but more often it’s through a book. With books I can travel not only through space, but also through time. That’s what I did with my latest book, The Mitford Scandal by Jessica Fellowes. I traveled through time to the late ’20’s and early ’30’s and through space to several countries in Europe. In addition, I got to experience, at least in a small way, what it was like to be part of the servant class and also part of the idle rich. The beauty, of course, was I did this all from my centrally heated home, with all the modern conveniences I’ve come to appreciate.
The book is one I would recommend to anyone who likes to read historical fiction, although if you are really wanting to get the full force of all the characters I would start with the first in the series. This was book three and the story is complete within the novel, but there is some character development that takes place in the first two novels that you might enjoy experiencing along with the characters. Here’s my review.
This is the third in a series of mysteries featuring Louisa Cannon, employee; and the Mitford sisters, part of the wealthy and famous of Great Britain at the height of the roaring twenties. The mystery here is complete within this novel and there is sufficient information about the relationships between characters to understand how their lives are interconnected. That said, the book can most likely be best enjoyed by reading the series to experience how characters and situations develop.
The mystery itself is well crafted and various situations, characters and events have been inspired by historically true events. At the end of the novel there are explanations for those who are interested regarding the real-life cases that were used to develop this story. This is an added bonus for anyone who may have an interest in the era and desire to do their own research.
Ms. Fellowes does an excellent job of creating the atmosphere of the age such that the reader has no difficulty creating pictures in their head as they read of fabulous parties, magnificent homes, and travel. In addition, Fellowes has effectively pulled back the curtain on people to give her interpretation of moods, ideas, and activities. In short, it is only a short leap to imagine this book series becoming a mini-series for television much in the same vein as Ms. Fellowes’ previous works.
While it is possible to put the book down when other activities interrupt reading, the images are likely to remain with the reader and draw them back to the book as soon as possible. Louisa Cannon is sympathetic and likable, and the reader can easily become engaged in wanting to follow her personal activities above and beyond the mystery of why members of the ‘bright young things’ set keep dying. There is ample opportunity to see life in the 20’s from both the servants point of view and that of the idle rich.
As for the mystery itself, it begins with the death of a maid and then goes on to involve the deaths of several wealthy young people, members of Louisa’s employer Diana’s set. While the story is largely viewed from Louisa’s point of view, along with her policeman friend, Guy, there are glimpses of the glamorous parties and the decadent lifestyle led by Diana and other members of her social escheleon. While the murderer is basically in plain sight through most of the novel, there are a couple of twists that, if the reader has not been carefully attending to information provided, will come as a surprise. A veteran reader of mysteries will have an advantage if they want to solve the murder, and the book is also enjoyable for anyone who simply wants to slip back to another place and time and experience a bygone era.
I would recommend this book to anyone who likes to read historical fiction as well as anyone who likes as well-crafted mystery. The characters are fully formed and their appearance, the description of places, etc. is skillfully woven in throughout the story in a way that makes the entire work move effortlessly from beginning to end. The only issue that brought me out of the story were the few occasions when Fellows would end a chapter, or mention within the story something to the effect that “things are about to happen”. When I came upon these phrases it was as if I was being reminded there is a modern day person who is penning this story, which momentarily took me out of the tale itself. Except for those occasions, I could have easily spent several hours immersed in the late ‘20’s and early ‘30’s. My thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for providing me with an advanced digital read copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.
Now that I’ve shared some travel ideas with you, I hope you are inspired to go explore on your own. If you go by car, train, air, etc., remember to take a book with you. After all, no one says you can’t “double dip”. I’m going to go explore my bookshelves to see where I’m bound next. For you, I’ll simply say Happy Reading!