Monday, February 24, 2014

A Place of Confinement, Anna Dean

Here on Amazon -- To be honest, I grabbed this book off the new arrivals shelf at the library as a result of the historical fiction kick I've been on lately, and have not read any of the earlier books in the series, but I think I may have to return to the earlier ones now! (A side note: since I'm so bad at remembering to blog, I'll be making myself briefly review the books I read, as that sort of commitment comes with a built-in blogging timer. Finished a book? Write something about it! And so on. We'll see if this works any better than the last blogging commitment I made... the one in 2011.) The protagonist, Miss Dido Kent, is an unmarried woman in her mid-30s; the year is 1807, and Dido has therefore been compelled to act as chaperone/companion to her aging, wealthy, widowed aunt in hopes of cozening the lady to leave most of her fortune to Dido's part of the family. She finds the motive mercenary and the aunt intolerable, but the strange disappearance of a young heiress from the home where they are staying catches her interest -- especially when the wastrel son of the man she loves is implicated in the disappearance and a following murder.... The period details are charming, but decidedly secondary to the murder mystery; I was soundly convinced by a few red herrings that I knew what was going on, only to be proven completely wrong in the end. The plot is quite tight, with a wealth of interesting supporting characters, a dark family secret or two, and a dash of 1800s vintage feminism adding color and detail. One scene involving Dido, her aunt, and Mary Wollstonecraft's On the Education of Women in a false binding took on a new and funnier light after the ending. Overall, recommended! It's not a novel to change anyone's life, but it's much better than I was expecting of a random snowy-day read.

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