Of all people, Elsie found servants to be the most judgemental: jealous of their master´s station, since it was tied closely to their own. Rupert´s London household had turned their noses up at her when she arrived from the match factory. Her confession that she hadn´t kept domestic help since her mother died had sealed their contempt. Only respect for Rupert, and Rupert´s warning glances, made them civil.
This is followed up by a scene in which the main character Elsie, who is accompanied by her cousin Sarah, has to change her dress in a carriage.:
Sarah leant forward. "What will you do? You´ll need to get changed straight away, without being seen. And Rosie isn´t here!
No, Rosie was unwilling to leave her London life and wages to live in this backwater. Elsie could not blame her. Andf to be honest, she was secretly relieved. She´d never felt comfortable changing in front of her lady´s maid, having strange hands against her skin. But she would need to hire another one soon, if just for appearances´ sake. She did not want to get the reputation of being one of these eccentric widows populating the countryside.
"I daresay I´ll manage without Rosie for now."
Sarah´s face brightened. "I could help you with the buttons at the back. I´m good at buttons."
Well, that made one thing.
Well, that was fast. I´m on page 20 and I already detest the main character.
If you want to have an idea of what is going on in this, make sure you've read from #3 and on in this series, this is #6. I read #3 in 2014 and #5 in 2016 and I could barely hang in there as it was in the beginning.
This pretty much follows the mystery set up in the books I mentioned, one of the bigger villains is pretty much already dealt with but while the other books dispatched of him, they also hinted at someone else behind the scenes, this is all about the hunt for that someone behind the scenes.
I feel like I've been complaining about this a lot lately, just my string of luck with picking stories I guess, but our hero and heroine had a childhood friendship, we get no scenes of it. Basically, she already has found him sexy and wanted him, while he is waking up to the fact that he, too, has always wanted her. I missed watching and experiencing the development of attraction.
I received a copy from Netgalley.
I’ve been morbidly curious about The Donner party ever since I read Stephen King’s The Shining where The Donners are referenced. I looked it up – it was a true story, a disturbing one, but a true one. So I was really looking forward to this book as soon as I heard about it.
I was really excited when I got my review request approved, and when I started reading, I liked it so much I bought a finished copy after a few chapters and read that. This one took a while to get used to the style of the writing. There were an awful lot of characters to keep track off, some got more detailed back stories than others. It was hard to keep track of who everyone was.
But the more I read the more fascinated I became with it. There’s a real sense of history and how hard it was for the people making the trek to California. The hardships they went through. The relationships between the people is well written. It’s brutal as well – not everyone is going to get along, obviously, so many people have so many different thoughts, feelings, opinion, violence will breed, love, lust, obsession, hatred…
The author does a brilliant job of capturing a storm of emotions. As well as putting a spooky twist on the story.
It did drag a bit in the middle, but as conditions slowly started getting worse and seeds of mistrust and doubt deepened amongst the people, the story picked up again and was unputdownable towards the end, and quite frightening as the winter hit really bad.
A hard book to read in parts, but so, so worth it. I loved it. And would definitely read it again.
Thank you to Netgalley and Random House UK, Transworld Publishers.
I enjoyed, but at the same time was slightly disappointed in this volume by the son of Gyles Brandreth. The latter has given me many pleasurable hours with his Oscar Wilde mystery stories, where he reimagines a literary great as a solver of mysteries. Benet Brandreth has taken advantage of that big gap in Shakespeare's known biography to set up the beginning of a series of adventure stories - not mysteries, but more action-oriented - featuring Will on a fictional but historically possible trip to Venice; presumably this volume's sidekicks, Nick Oldcastle (who was the real-life inspiration for Falstaff) and Heminges, fellow-actor and eventual publisher of the First Folio, will also continue to play a part in sequels.
The chief delight of the novel is the interweaving of an endless succession of Shakespearian references. The more Shakespeare you have lurking in your brain, the more smiles of recognition will break out across your face as yet another familiar phrase or situation surfaces in an unfamiliar context. The story itself is also not bad: there's nothing wrong with Brandreth's imagination and he clearly knows enough about the 1590s (English and Italian) to navigate from spies in the Bearpit to vengeful Italian femmes fatales, with many minor characters biting the dust along the way. It's a decent romp in an interesting historical setting (for me, the story picked up considerably once it moved to Italy).
For me at least, there was one constant irritant in the style. All too frequently, we'd read a perfectly good declarative sentence. Which was unnecessarily broken and followed by a sentence fragment. I don't mind this device when it's occasionally used for emphasis or to characterize a speaker, but when it appears every other page in the general narrative, it's just a nasty (and unskilful) little tic, and I wish there had been an editorial foot put down on it. Comparisons are odorous, as Dogberry says, but the language of Benet's Dad in the Wilde series is pretty much irreproachable.
Will is still in Venice at the end of this novel, no doubt with much still to observe about Jews on the Rialto amongst other things. If I see the second in this series, I'll likely give it a shot, but with lowered expectations. It's still a worthy entry in that remarkably voluminous sub-genre, stories featuring Shakespeare as a fictional character.