"He was wearing mourning. It was inappropriate for a bridegroom but no-one tried to persuade him to do otherwise. There were whispers , of course , and those who said that black gloves could not hide the blood on his hands."
This is the intriguing prologue to this thoroughly enjoyable book. I first picked up one of Caroline Stickland's novels because a friend told me she sets them in my home county of Dorset. I've enjoyed them all and The Kindly Ones is my favourite so far. It's different from the earlier books in two ways. Firstly,it isn't set just in Dorset. You're taken to India, Egypt and Damascus , all described in a way that brings each place to life . Secondly , Stickland has taken the Greek myth of Helen of Troy and reset it in the nineteenth century.
The story begins in a garden on a summer afternoon when Eleanor Forston/Helen and Paul Eliot/Paris first meet . The repercussions from the actions of these two shallow , selfish people set in train tragedy , passion and overwhelming love. The Greek myths have lived on because they are such absorbing stories and the author has translated the events into a believable , compelling Victorian novel with realistic characters struggling with the conventions of their times.
I read in Dorset Life magazine last month that this book was shortlisted for the Romantic Novel of the Year . It's not only an enthralling romance but also a dramatic tale of murder and revenge . I'd recommend it to any lover of wonderfully told historical fiction.