Ruby May is a trained childnurse whose London family is going to emigrate abroad. But because Ruby sends her monthly wages to her mother, sister Elsie and brothers, she feels she cannot leave them and decides to stay in England. She ends up at Hardcastle House in a remote corner of the country as a nanny for Mr and Mrs England’s four children. But once there, the other servants are unfriendly to her and Mrs England herself shows little interest in her or the children. Ruby also brings her own secrets which she will have to face after a letter from her father arrives.
This is the third book of Halls that I read (after The familiars and The foundling) and I can say that I’m a huge fan of the kind of stories that she brings. Each time her books consist of a fine historical background with a ‘gothic’ mystery at its centre. In ‘Mrs England‘ the remote Hardcastle House is the ideal setting with strange inhabitants and their secrets as in any Gothic novel.
Ruby is a nice main character with whom you immediately relate. But she carries a past with her that sometimes makes you wonder about her motives. The story unfolds slowly. Or at least it felt slower than in Hall’s other books. But the story is well constructed. There were some elements that I guessed but some things you don’t really see coming. The ending is satisfying enough.
I think I found this to be Halls’ least interesting book so far. Maybe because the setting is more typically gothic and the pace was on the slow side. But I would definitely recommend her books, they are great reads. And I enjoyed reading about Mrs England and Ruby May. I’m curious to see which setting Halls will choose for her next novel.
This is book 10/20 for ‘20 books of Summer‘.
Have you read anything by Stacey Halls?