A war widow joins a former spy in setting up a matrimonial agency.
Losing her husband, Ronnie, to combat in World War II sends Gwendolyn Bainbridge into an incapacitating depression. When she emerges from her extended stay in a private sanitarium, she learns that her mother-in-law, Lady Carolyne Bainbridge, has won the legal right to manage all of Gwen’s affairs, including legal guardianship of Gwen’s young son. But a chance meeting with Iris Sparks, whose work for the War Office is best summed up as “I can’t tell you that,” gives Gwen a renewed sense of purpose. The ill-assorted pair decide to open a matrimonial agency. Iris, who’s been engaged multiple times, brings a wealth of experience about what does or doesn’t make couples click, while Gwen adds a smattering of clerical skills as well as the determination to do something worthwhile. Fueled by their disparate talents, The Right Sort Marriage Bureau enjoys a modicum of success before the roof caves in. Tillie La Salle, an East Ender who works in a dress shop, enlists their help in finding a spouse to take her far away from Shadwell. Almost immediately afterward, she’s found murdered, and the police arrest Richard Trower, Iris and Gwen’s initial match for her. The tabloids have a field day with the story. It takes wit, grit, and ingenuity for the pair to save their agency. The account of game Gwen’s efforts to navigate London public transport is worth the purchase price all on its own.
The Right Sort Marriage Bureau’s debut is exactly the right sort to have readers hoping for a second date.