My return to sharing audio review begins with a bit of a mixed bag as Victoria Hamilton comes to the blog with the first in a new historic series that is narrated by Heather Wilds with
A Gentlewoman’s Guide to Murder
Initially the buzz on this audio production was positive, even with a series of rather mixed reviews on the narrator. But, with a new to me narrator I like to judge for myself because often I’ve found that my impressions contrast dramatically with others. And, that quality will hold true for this title in audio, but there are more that potential listeners or readers should consider. I love Hamilton’s Vintage Kitchen series, and the clever twists and bits of ‘history’ that are mixed into a contemporary setting are lovely. So, in terms of history and accuracy, the book is spot on. The problem comes to the forefront with reader/listener trigger elements – and with this book being a clear accounting of the power imbalances between upper and lower class, men and women, and master and servant. And the main character one who fights for those subject to a series of abuses that range from minor and everyday up to drastic and dramatic. And, this provides an interesting juxtaposition as Emmaline is quite clearly a vengeful and raging champion, with good reason that comes to light, but difficult to empathize with, particularly when she’s in ‘full on’ mode.
But the murder of Sir Henry opens the doors and curtains into a world that, according to Emmaline, is destined only to prey on women and those without power – and EVERY single person she encounters is met with a certain level of hostility and suspicion. But, once all of Emmaline’s reasons are laid out – and her justifiable anger is explained (if a bit over the top) it becomes easier (although never simple) to understand the character. And the twists, turns and reveals are marvelous – if one can get past the preachiness and venom that is underlying every act and moment from Emmaline. It’s worth a read though for the twists, turns and the actions that unfortunately are accurate historically and feel plausible in terms of reactions.
Narration for this story is provided by Heather Wilds, and this was my first encounter with her work. There was a distinct lack of pauses: scene breaks, sentences, moving on to a subsequent thought – all felt rushed and not given proper time to absorb the events or meaning. Character voices were solid – but again the oddly paced delivery meant that I was often needing to ‘go back’ and listen frequently. When combined with the emotionally testing story line and Emmaline’s rather strident responses, this was a book that would, for me, be better served in reading where pacing and time to complete is self-directed. On reflection, I doubt if I will be jumping forward for this narrator again, although if a ‘light and fluffy’ tale comes up that she has narrated, I might give it a try.
Stars: Overall 3 Narration 1 Story 3
Title: A Gentlewoman's Guide to Murder
Author: Victoria Hamilton
Series: A Gentlewoman's Guide to Murder #1
Genre: British, Dark-theme, Historic Elements, Historical Mystery, Mystery Elements, Setting: Britain, Victorian
Narrator: Heather Wilds
Published by: Tantor Audio
Published on: 9 April, 2019
Source: Tantor Audio
Audio Length: 10 Hours: 38 minutes
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Scandal and slayings among Regency London's elite
The shocking murder of Sir Henry Claybourne leaves Regency London shaken and horror-struck. But for genteel spinster Miss Emmeline St. Germaine, the crime slices far too close to home. Just hours before the knight's death she held a dagger to him, threatening him to stay silent as she rescued a scullery maid he had procured for his pleasure.
Did the man—or woman—who murdered the knight know of her visit? Her secret identity at risk, her reputation and life in jeopardy, Emmeline must solve the crime or face scandalous exposure and ruination, or worse—the hangman's noose—for a crime she did not commit.
A copy of this title was provided via Tantor Audio for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.