So many of the historic mysteries I have tried miss the mark for me because the authors give their characters modern voices. These historic character..Show More »s speak in current day slang and have a completely modern day point of view. It is a frequent failure in the historic genre for me.
This book does not make that mistake. These characters are amazingly accurate for their time. I know this because my grandparents were born in the late 1880s and I knew them well. For me Laurence could have been my grandfather. They had the same backgrounds, education, histories and experience of WWI battlefields. The voice the author gave Laurence Bartram was accurate. Careful, precise, overly polite, exhaustively educated and thoughtful--as was my grandfather. My only disagreement was that I do not believe that those that survived WWI battlefields go back to their previous lives and pick up living as usual. Many if not all people are changed forever by war.
The book is very well written and heavily based in history and research. The narration was calm, almost plodding, and precise. The book absolutely is a mystery-- but not your usual mystery. This is a slow sorting out and retelling of complicated events. To me a visit to the past. I enjoyed it very much. A sad, insightful story worth the effort if you are interested in WWI and its aftermath.
This is not a real mystery. It is the psychological portrait of the Easton family as seen through the eyes of Laurence Bartram and told with flashback..Show More »s from other family members.
Kitty Easton is mentioned periodically but is NOT the focus of the book, although at the end we do find out what happened to her.
But rather the author has chosen to draw a psychological protrait of a disfunctional family who have been torn apart by WW1 and the death of the family heir in that war.Gradually we learn all the misery of the family and their emotional problems and ailments. They are trying to rebuild the family estate and create a memorial for the dead of the village. Bit by bit we learn that the glorious heir was really a syphilitic daredevil and drunkard who infected his wife and lead the whole regiment of villagers to their death -- the family is covering up all the facts about him which gradually emerges through conversations and flashbakcs.
The family and various servants, past and present, are all haunted by past events from which they have never emotionally recovered. They reach some sort of emotional resolution at the end. The books is about peeling back the layers of truth about this family, its relatives and its servants.
Frankly I did NOT like this book, I did not consider it a mystery, and was totally bored by it. The author does wite well, although she spends way too much time on trivial detail as way to create the atmosphere. She is one of thoise writer who believe in "telling" the reader rather than "showing" the reader. This makes the whole story a rather passive one.