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The Mitford Murders by Jessica Fellows - Review

Saturday, June 9, 2018

I had to read this book for my in real life book club, and I wasn't really looking forward to it when it arrived. It wasn't that the story was offputting, but the book is HUGE - 400 pages - and hardback, which I find hard to hold and unwieldy to read in bed. But I thought I'd start it anyway and see how I got on. I ended up really liking it - it is a compelling story and I liked the historical aspects. I liked it so much that I've preordered the next in the series! All the books are somehow related to the Mitford sisters although I'm not sure to what extent.

Anyway, this story concerns Louisa, who grew up in the East End. At the beginning of the book, it is 1920, and Florence Nightingale Shore, goddaughter of the famous nurse, is murdered on a train. Louisa is, the same day, being forced on to a train by her uncle Stephen to help him pay off some debts. She escapes, and meets railway policeman Guy. Guy has to rush off to help Florence's case, but he and Louisa stay in touch. 

Meanwhile, Louisa travels to Asthall Manor, where the Mitfords live, to take up an offered position as a nursery maid. Aged eighteen, she is close in age to Nancy Mitford, who is sixteen, and the two girls become close, or as close as they can be. They visit a ball together without permission, and on escaping meet an officer recently returned from WWI, Roland Lucknor. Nancy strikes up a friendship with him, hoping for me, but Louisa is mistrustful of him. She is also living in fear of her uncle Stephen turning up to ruin her new job. 

Guy, meanwhile, can't give up thinking about the Florence Shore case and is determined to find out who killed her, even if that means risking his job while he does it. Nancy Mitford reads about the case and becomes interested, especially as their nanny's twin sister knew Florence. She and Louisa are also needling at the case and as expected, all the threads come together at the end of the book. 

It is a bit predictable in places and a bit outlandish in others, but I thought it was a fun read. Nancy Mitford is an incorrigible character but I couldn't help but like her. Louisa and Guy are both likeable protagonists, so I found it easy to read about them. 

I'm giving this four stars and as I say I've already ordered the next one!


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