Wedding preparations may be the death of a distant heir to the British throne in this 1930s period piece.
Lady Georgiana Rannoch (On Her Majesty’s Frightfully Secret Service, 2017, etc.) has relinquished her status as 35th in line to the throne to marry her love, Darcy O’Mara, an Irish Catholic with a hush-hush government job that carries him off at a moment’s notice. Poor as a church mouse, Georgie is staying with a friend in London while another friend makes her wedding gown. Her much-married actress mother will provide her trousseau, and the king and queen will attend the wedding. Georgie and Darcy can afford only a tiny flat in a sketchy area. Rescue comes in the form of a letter from Sir Hubert Anstruther, one of her mother’s exes and Georgie’s godfather, offering her the use of Eynsleigh, his beautiful home not far from London. Anstruther travels a good deal, and the house is so huge that he’ll need only a suite of rooms when he returns. Upon her arrival, Georgie finds that all the servants she remembers have been replaced and the house and grounds sadly neglected. Plunkett, the new butler, is obviously dismayed to see her, the so-called cook offers her tinned soup for dinner, the housemaid is rude, and the gardeners are selling most of the produce and pocketing the money. The first night Georgie spends at Eynsleigh, the gas tap is left on in her room, and only her habit of sleeping with the windows open saves her life. She discovers that Sir Hubert’s elderly and slightly mad mother is living in a closed-off wing of the house, all the valuable items have vanished, and the police are seeking a man who vanished after calling at the house. Delighted with the arrival of her mother, grandfather, and former maid, Queenie, who can actually cook, Georgie takes it upon herself to investigate, a decision that may put paid to her wedding plans.
Another stiff-upper-lip novel full of charm, romance, and a smidgen of mystery that’s altogether delightful.