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4.0 out of 5 starsEnjoyed It!
Reviewed in the United States on March 15, 2021
I enjoy this series. This latest title was a good addition and pushed forward the narrative for all of the characters. I learn a little something new about that period in history with each novel.
Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher, Minotaur Books for this Advanced Reader Copy and the opportunity to review “The Mitford Trial.” All opinions are my own.
Our book begins with a wedding (well, after “that” prologue). No longer the Mitford ladies’ maid, Louisa Cannon is at last getting married to her policeman. Everything’s fine, and then all the coppers have to rush off to help quell a disturbance of the Oswald Mosley-led BUF (British Union of Fascists). It turns out to be a false alarm, and soon she and Guy Sullivan, her new husband are off on their honeymoon. She’s stopped being a maid completely, and is training to be a court stenographer. What could go wrong? Plenty, in “The Mitford Trial,” the fourth in the series that uses the five famous Mitford sisters and their tumultuous lives as the basis for some very mysterious goings-on.
Six months later, Nancy Mitford asks to see Louisa. She wants her to accompany her mother and a couple of the sisters on a cruise. Louisa turns her down. She wants nothing to do with these women anymore. Well, our book should be over, shouldn’t it? Not likely, for she’s approached by a stranger who tells her that for King and Country it’s her duty to go on the cruise to keep an eye on the Mitford clan (mother, then Diana, and the youngest, Unity) and “observe,” to see who they interact with. And she can’t tell her husband. Well, nothing good can come out of that, and nothing does, obviously. We already know that somebody (presumably) dies. And Louisa and the sisters will be up to their pretty ear bobs in it, soon enough. So Louisa makes up a story for Guy, takes a leave from school, and we’re off.
What “they” are looking for is anything to do with Mosley (Diana’s aboard because of him), presumably, and also how chummy the Mitfords plan to be with anyone or anything to do with the Nazi party. And Unity is there salivating about a German who’s on the boat. Add to our cast a woman with a husband having investment troubles, and she’s having an affair with a cabin boy, who’s also got a girlfriend aboard. And then Louisa’s husband shows up. Enough complications for you yet?
Finally, it’s revealed that the husband with investment trouble is the one from the prologue that’s attacked. The wife and the cabin boy are highest on the suspect list, especially since they were right there. Our murder investigation begins, with Louisa’s husband as the chief investigator.
There’s cross and double cross, and secrets kept between a wife and her new husband. Eventually, much time has gone by. There’s a sensational trial of the wife and her cabin boy lover. Diana testifies, and things are over -- rather abruptly -- with a tragic ending. At least Louisa has an idea for the future, so maybe something good will come out of it after all.
There’s a lot going on here, most of it with unpleasant people, including the Mitford sisters (history pretty much bears this out). I didn’t find it as interesting as earlier books in the series, and the timeline moves around a lot, which can be annoying. But the author has certainly done her research (an author’s note at the finish explains the real-life trial and people the book is based upon – don’t read it first as it contains spoilers) and provides a thought-provoking story in “The Mitford Trial.”
3.0 out of 5 starsMay be better for series readers
Reviewed in the United States on January 21, 2021
I have mixed feelings about this novel. It is an excellently researched, well written historical novel that leans heavily on actual people and events, even though in some cases the names of individuals have been changed. I wasn’t aware, when I began,that the Mitfords were actual people, and I was somewhat lost because this is not the first book in the series and when the other Mitford sisters were referred to, I had difficulty placing them. The book itself moves back and forth between time frames. This sudden switch, which occurred through chapters and, until I became accustomed to the style, it took me a second to reorient myself to what I was reading. There are some explanations at the end of the book that help share research information from the author and help with understanding of the novel. It is best not to read these before finishing the book as they contain spoilers. They do add credence to the novel itself and to the author’s credentials. Finally, the book is filled with unlikable people. With the exception of Louisa, the chief protagonist, and Guy her newly minted husband, I didn’t like any of the characters. The Mitford sisters come across as entitled, spoiled, and self-absorbed. The other characters in the book show many flaws, such as the Nazi officer who appears to be a poster-child for Hitler’s Aryan race or the victim, a highly flawed “captain of industry who tries to trade his wife’s “favor’s to pay off a debt. Still, I believe there are readers who will read and be captivated by this book. They most likely are people who have a significant interest in the time period, in the rise of Hitler and the Third Reich, or who want a more genuine look at the differences between the working class and the nobility. For that reason, Although there is a fictional mystery in this book, I believe that takes a significant back seat to the historical research and facts that underpin the book. Thank you to St. Martin's Press for providing me with an advanced digital copy for review. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 23, 2020
It pains me to say it, but this book was a little too long - I kept losing my concentration; it didn't keep me focused like all the other Mitford books. Having said that, I was still able to invest in the people - after all it is true history with a story written around it. I did feel, too, that you would have to have read the others in the series, to understand this one at all! I think Jessica Fellowes is a talented author, that just missed the 5 Star mark by a whisker with this one.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 9, 2021
This is the latest book in the Mitford Murders, exceedingly good read as are all Jessica Fellows books. Another must read book fully recommend! So well researched and full of twists and turns. When is the next book in the series due out , can't wait to see where life takes the characters next.