Top critical review
A madcap, frothy romp
on 25 June 2013
This is enjoyable light reading for when you need something fun, frivolous and frothy.
There's nothing in the slightest bit challenging here, and some very familiar plots and characters: the upper-class `gel' who needs to work and earn her own money (cf. Daisy Dalrymple); the actress mother who `bolts' from all her marriages (cf. The Bolter in Nancy Mitford's books); the inane upper-class men who can't pronounce their `Rs' (`mawwy me'), can't dance without stepping on their partner's toes, and so on.
Added into this mix is what feels like a sop to an American readership which takes our heroine into Buckingham Palace to have tea with the queen, and some rather unkind bitching about Wallis Simpson. Oh, and of course a murder which only our heroine can solve.
Bowen pulls the whole thing together with huge enjoyment despite the gaping flaws - a murderer who carries cyanide around in his pocket on the off-chance he'll get to use it; a heroine who doesn't have a faintest idea how to make black coffee but makes a living cleaning other people's houses (including the toilet!).
If you enjoy cosy, light-hearted books like the Daisy Dalrymple or Agatha Raisin series then this may be a good choice - perfect switch-your-brain-off reading.