AD – PR Product – NetGalley book
Genre: Historical fiction
My Rating: ☆☆☆/5
TRIGGER WARNINGS: death of a child, murder, arson, rape, sexual assault, misogyny.
Synopsis: Edwardian England. Agnes Ashford knows that her duty is threefold: she needs to work on cataloguing the archive of the titled Bryant family, she needs to keep the wounds of her past tightly under wraps, and she needs to be quietly grateful to her employers for taking her up in her hour of need. However, a dark secret she uncovers due to her work thrusts her into the Bryants’ brilliant orbit – and into the clutch of their ambitions.
They are prepared to take the new century head-on and fight for their preeminent position and political survival tooth and nail – and not just to the first blood. With a mix of loyalty, competence, and well-judged silence Agnes rises to the position of a right-hand woman to the family matriarch – the cunning and glamorous Lady Helen. But Lady Helen’s plans to hold on to power through her son are as bold as they are cynical, and one day Agnes is going to face an impossible choice…
My thoughts: As anyone who’s been reading my blogs for a while will know, historical fiction is my favourite genre to read, so I jumped at the chance to read this historical fiction novel via NetGalley. I found the beginning of the book quite confusing – it felt like we were thrown into the story with very little context, and it is for that reason that the I gave the book a 3 star rating. Once I’d figured out what was happening, I started to become deeply invested in the storyline. Despite the lack of context at the beginning of the book, I thought the writing was fantastic throughout.
The relationship between Helen and Agnes was great, and I think that LGBT+ representation in historical fiction is so important – just because at the time it was frowned upon doesn’t mean it didn’t exist! The storyline is intriguing and immersive, and when I was starting out reading the book, I wouldn’t have been able to guess its plot if I was just going off the synopsis.
There are a number content throughout the book that could be seen as problematic for some readers (see trigger warnings at the top of the page). Being mindful of these, I would recommend this book if you’re looking for a historical fiction with plenty of drama and Edwardian lesbians.
Thanks again to NetGalley for a copy of this book in exchange for this review.
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