Mrs England by Stacey Halls
West Yorkshire, 1904.
When newly graduated nurse Ruby May takes a position looking after the children of Charles and Lilian England, a wealthy couple from a powerful dynasty of mill owners, she hopes it will be the fresh start she needs. But as she adapts to life at the isolated Hardcastle House, it becomes clear there’s something not quite right about the beautiful, mysterious Mrs England. Ostracised by the servants and feeling increasingly uneasy, Ruby is forced to confront her own demons in order to prevent history from repeating itself. After all, there’s no such thing as the perfect family – and she should know.
Simmering with slow-burning menace, Mrs England is a portrait of an Edwardian marriage, weaving an enthralling story of men and women, power and control, courage, truth and the very darkest deception. Set against the atmospheric landscape of West Yorkshire, Stacey Halls’ third novel proves her one of the most exciting and compelling new storytellers of our times.
I thought I was in the beginning of a reading slump but then I started reading this book and the reading slump soon disappeared. I just could not put this down it kept me riveted from beginning to end.
This book is mainly set in Yorkshire and is a true gothic novel with more than one mystery to solve. Ruby May is a Norland nurse who spends her time keeping busy with her charges and sending all the money she can afford home to help her family but it is also clear that Nurse May has a secret in her past and this secret she keeps locked up in a tin in her trunk but you can tell that the secret weighs heavily on Nurse May and she is never free from it.
Nurse May finds herself working for the England family but soon realises something is not right with her mistress Mrs England but she can’t work out what it is. Due to Mrs England’s aloofness Nurse May directs all questions about the children to Mr England and soon finds Mr England to be the perfect master. However, something is still not right about the house and Nurse May can sense this and you soon realise as the reader that there is another mystery to try and work out that surrounds the house.
The setting in the Yorkshire countryside really adds to this book, the wild crags, waterfall and forest all make the characters seem isolated and in danger. The other fact that all doors need to be locked at all times really adds to this fear of something or someone.
I loved reading this book the atmosphere and the mystery meant that I just could not stop reading the book until I had all the answers I wanted. I will definitely be reading more books by Stacey Halls and I give this book 5 out of 5 Dragons.
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About the author
Stacey Halls grew up in Rossendale, Lancashire, as the daughter of market traders. She has always been fascinated by the Pendle witches. She studied journalism at the University of Central Lancashire and moved to London aged 21. She was media editor at The Bookseller and books editor at Stylist.co.uk, and has also written for Psychologies, the Independent and Fabulous magazine, where she now works as Deputy Chief Sub Editor. The Familiars is her first novel.