In February 1915, a member of one of Canada’s wealthiest families was shot and killed on the front porch of his home in Toronto as he was returning from work. Carrie Davies, an 18-year-old domestic servant, quickly confessed. But who was the victim here? Charles "Bert" Massey, a scion of a famous family, or the frightened, perhaps mentally unstable Carrie, a penniless British immigrant?
When the brilliant lawyer Hartley Dewart, QC, took on her case, his grudge against the powerful Masseys would fuel a dramatic trial that pitted the old order against the new, wealth and privilege against virtue and honest hard work. Set against a backdrop of the Great War in Europe and the changing face of a nation, this sensational crime is brought to vivid life for the first time.
As in her previous best-selling book, Gold Diggers - now in production as a Discovery Television miniseries - multi-award-winning historian and biographer Charlotte Gray has created a captivating narrative rich in detail and brimming with larger-than-life personalities, as she shines a light on a central moment in our past.
©2013 Chralotte Gray (P)2013 HarperCollins Canada
Details of Toronto life woven into the narrative.
Suspense was maintained throughout long sections of contextual facts about Toronto.
The characters were clearly differentiated, but their tones of voice and accents made them all sound very un-Canadian (un-American, too) and nasty.
I was continuously moved by the descriptions of the harsh life of the lower servants, even the ones with relatively kind employers.
Ms. Duerdon is unfamiliar with place and surnames, e.g. Muskoka got the accent on the first syllable so much that it took a second to figure out what she meant. She has a lovely voice with a rather careful English accent during the narrative bits, but her pronunciation of a number of words is strange, with the Accent on the wrong syllAble. e.g. the noun rhetoric with the accent on the 2nd syllable. This can be a bit disconcerting. It's puzzling that she does this with a few fairly common multi-syllabic words that are readily available in pronunciation websites.
Mary Queen of Scots, for the similar soul-wrenching circumstances of the lead lady
The bio's of Hart Massey, Bert Massey, Florence Eustace . . . all the players in the drama come off the page. I cannot pick one scene. Many of the names and stories are new to me while others are familiar. But they all overlapped in this era of Toronto's history. They used the same old streets that are there now, Spadina, Yonge, Adelaide, and shopped in the same stores, Eaton's, Simpson's. The book is like walking through a black and white picture veil of 1915 and on the other side it is all brought back to life, colour and action!
I will listen to it again so I can soak up all the beautifully presented history.
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