Title: Mrs England
Author: Stacey Halls
Genre: Historical Fiction
Goodreads Rating: 4.35
When newly graduated nurse Ruby May takes a position looking after the children of Charles and Lilian England, a wealthy couple from a powerful dynasty of mill owners, she hopes it will be the fresh start she needs. But as she adapts to life at the isolated Hardcastle House, it becomes clear there’s something not quite right about the beautiful, mysterious Mrs England. Ostracised by the servants and feeling increasingly uneasy, Ruby is forced to confront her own demons in order to prevent history from repeating itself. After all, there’s no such thing as the perfect family – and she should know.
Simmering with slow-burning menace, Mrs England is a portrait of an Edwardian marriage, weaving an enthralling story of men and women, power and control, courage, truth and the very darkest deception. Set against the atmospheric landscape of West Yorkshire, Stacey Halls’ third novel proves her one of the most exciting and compelling new storytellers of our times.
I’d like to thank NetGalley and Bonnier Books UK for approving me for an ARC of this book. I have both of Stacey Halls’ previous books sat n my shelf waiting to be read so I was very excited when this one popped up! Luckily my good friends Meg Readz and Clare got approved too so I did this as a buddy read with them, I really enjoyed discussing the book as we went.
I honestly do not know where to begin with this one. One word seemed to spring to mind a lot during my buddy conversations and that was QUESTIONS! I felt that I had so many questions and every time I carried on through the read I would find some of the answers but more questions would pop up. This compelled me to read on as I desperately wanted to know certain things such as Ruby’s family story, what would happen to her and why was everyone so strange at Hardcastle House?
The setting of West Yorkshire in the 1900’s was beautifully described and provided the perfect chilling setting to Hardcastle House. It was fascinating to learn about the Norland Nurses Institute and other timely features from that period. This is why historical fiction is one of my favourite genres as I feel that I learn so many interesting facts about history.
Ruby was a brilliant main character. It was clear from the start that she had a way with children and whilst the prospect of looking after 4 children was quite daunting, she handled it with true professionalism. She was firm but fair and showed a lot of affection to all four children, she was also very creative with their projects. Ruby’s attitude and how she carried herself was admirable. She wasn’t a pushover and felt able to voice her opinion, which she demonstrated with Saul’s asthma attack (the treatment the doctor administered still shocks me now!)
Mr and Mrs England were very interesting characters. Their stories were cleverly written and to begin with I couldn’t work out which one of them was the more damaging. It quickly became clear to me and I loved how that part of the story unravelled, as well as Ruby’s part in it.
This stories climatic ending had me frantically turning the pages, desperate to know the character’s fates and finally learn the answers to all my questions. Family secrets and lies are all intricately woven into this story to deliver a spooky and captivating tale.