I review The Pearl and the Carnelian by Annabel Fielding.
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…
Historical fiction is one of my favourite genres. I love the richness, the detail, the ability to dive into Victorian London or Ancient Greece or Medieval England. Annabel Fielding allows us to dive into the 1900’s, and meet Hester, a maid with aspirations of something more.
The Pearl and the Carnelian isn’t just a historical fiction, though. It’s a story of the friendship between women, something which can barely be explained, only felt. Hester becomes besotted with her mistress, Lady Lucy, who is darker than she appears. The sinister undercurrent, coupled with Fielding’s excellent writing, makes The Pearl and the Carnelian an enjoyable read.
Perfect for those of us who are missing Downton Abbey. Get your fill with The Pearl and the Carnelian.
Many thanks to the author for providing me with a review copy.