A couple of new books found their way to my house this week.
The Dressmaker by Posie Graeme-Evans
(From the publisher)
Ellen Gowan is the only surviving child of a scholarly village minister and a charming girl disowned by her family when she married for love. Growing up in rural Norfolk, Ellen’s childhood was poor but blessed with affection. Resilience, spirit, and one great talent will carry her far from such humble beginnings. In time, she will become the witty, celebrated, and very beautiful Madame Ellen, dressmaker to the nobility of England, the Great Six Hundred.
Yet Ellen has secrets. At fifteen she falls for Raoul de Valentin, the dangerous descendant of French aristocrats. Raoul marries Ellen for her brilliance as a designer but abandons his wife when she becomes pregnant. Determined that she and her daughter will survive, Ellen begins her long climb to success. Toiling first in a clothing sweat shop, she later opens her own salon in fashionable Berkeley Square though she tells the world – and her daughter – she’s a widow. One single dress, a ballgown created for the enigmatic Countess of Hawksmoor, the leader of London society, transforms Ellen’s fortunes, and as the years pass, business thrives. But then Raoul de Valentin returns and threatens to destroy all that Ellen has achieved.
In The Dressmaker, the romance of Jane Austen, the social commentary of Charles Dickens and the very contemporary voice of Posie Graeme-Evans combine to plunge the reader deep into the opulent, sinister world of teeming Victorian England. And if the beautiful Madame Ellen is not quite what she seems, the strength of her will sees her through to the truth, and love, at last.
The Anatomy of Ghosts by Andrew Taylor
(From the publisher)
They say Jerusalem is haunted by Mrs Whichcote’s ghost. Frank Oldershaw claims he saw her in the garden, where she drowned. Now he’s under the care of a physician.
Desperate to salvage her son’s reputation and restore him to health, Lady Anne Oldershaw employs her own agent – John Holdsworth, author of The Anatomy of Ghosts, a controversial attack on the existence of ghostly phenomena. But his arrival in Cambridge disrupts the uneasy status quo. He glimpses a world of privilege and abuse, where the sinister Holy Ghost Club governs life at Jerusalem more effectively than the Master, Dr Carbury, ever could.
But Holdsworth’s powers of reason and natural philosophy have other challenges. He dreams of his dead wife, Maria, who roams the borders of death. And now there’s Elinor, the very-much-alive Master’s wife, to haunt him in life. And at the heart of it all is the mystery of what really happened to Sylvia Whichcote in the claustrophobic confines of Jerusalem.
Why was Sylvia found lying dead in the Long Pond just before a February dawn? Why was she in Jerusalem at all? And how did she die?
Mailbox Monday is taking a blog tour. This month’s host is Julie of Knitting and Sundries. Head over there to see what goodies others got in their boxes and to share your own loot.
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