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The Strange Fate of Kitty Easton (Laurence Bartram #2)

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3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  797 ratings  ·  157 reviews
When former infantry officer Laurence Bartram is called to the small village of Easton Deadall, he is struck by the beauty of the place: a crumbling stately home; a centuries-old church; and a recently planted maze, a memorial to the men of the village, almost all of whom died in one heroic battle in 1916.

But it soon becomes clear to Laurence that while rest of the country
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Hardcover, 408 pages
Published May 1st 2011 by Virago Press (UK)
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Man Booker Prize Eligible 2011
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Community Reviews

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Danny
Love a good British mystery. Why does it being British matter? I DON'T KNOW BUT IT DOES.

Tea and murder, please and thank you.

The detective here is Laurence Bartram, and he's not really a detective. He's an expert on English churches. He's been invited to an estate house, Easton Deadall (ominous, yes?), to help an architect friend with his knowledge. This is the second book featuring Mr. Bartram, however, so I believe that if the series continues that death will plague him to the point where he s
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Sue
Aug 08, 2012 Sue rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sue by: readers of historical fiction
This second novel of the post war (WWI) life of Laurence Bartram takes him to Easton Hall to investigate the small church on the grounds of the Hall. The Easton family are planning a memorial to the war dead of their family and village and the church is central to that plan. Of course, there is much more happening here within the family, within the family retainers in the village. There is a history that Bartram sinks into in addition to the architectural history.

While I did enjoy this novel, I
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Billyf27
I just finished this book and am unable to start another one yet because I was so entangled with the characters and plot. It is hard to leave that world. I can't wait for the author's next book. Her first two are compelling, emotional reads that are hard to forget. I highly recommend this book.
Mary Ronan Drew
In The Strange Fate of Kitty Easton, the title character disappeared in 1911, 13 years ago as this novel opens, and her loss shrouds the estate of Easton in mystery and fear. Having been without men to work the land during the Great War, the estate is crumbling and the church has not been used for many years. Laurence Bartram, an expert on historic churches, is visiting at the request of his friend, William Bolitho, an architect who has been hired by Lydia Easton to repair workers' cottages, des ...more
Felice
So disappointing but was it a surprise? …I would have to say yes. It’s The Strange Fate of Kitty Easton the new mystery by Elizabeth Speller. This is the second novel featuring post WW1 veteran, detective and all around sensitive guy Laurence Bartram


Last year I was perplexed as to why I enjoyed Speller’s first mystery novel featuring Bartram, The Return of Captain John Emmett as much as I did. I think it was a combination of the victim’s back story and the time period. The mystery itself and B
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Hannah
Enjoyable mystery set in England between the wars. Reminded me (a tiny bit) to Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs series.

There were some parts that were very suspenseful and page turning, but as my lower rating indicates, these moments were few and far between times when nothing much happened with the plot at all. Not sure what Speller was trying to go for: a mystery, a character study, a period piece exposition. There was a little bit of everything, and the story overall seemed to suffer as a r
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Anne Wright
Nov 05, 2014 Anne Wright rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mystery lovers
Recommended to Anne by: my Dad
The strange fate of Kitty Easton by Elizabeth Speller

A mystery story with a twist to stop you in your tracks

The second book telling the story of Lawrence Bartram, Captain during WW1. Who keeps getting asked to look into the mysteries of life affecting friends and acquaintances.

William and Eleanor Bolitho are at Easton Deadall a country house with a church in the grounds. They have great plans for the church and the village attached to the house and building a maze to commemorate the men who had
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Spotsalots
May 10, 2014 Spotsalots added it
Shelves: fiction, mystery
This was really quite good, and I notice that the jacket copy (which describes it as a manor-house mystery) actually asserts it will "entrance literary, historical, and crime fiction readers" which must be a first in book-jacket advertising. It also takes advantage of the success of Downton Abbey and the upcoming centennial of World War I--I'm getting the impression that the immediate postwar period is a newly popular era for novels set in the past.

Why did I like this particular one? Good writin
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Katharine Ott
"Laurence Bartram was waiting for a late connection at Swindon station." Ah, comfy English mystery, I've missed you, with your stately manors, your afternoon teas and all those glances fraught with meaning. "The Strange Fate of Kitty Easton," by Elizabeth Speller was a welcome addition to my summer reading. The only quibble I have is my own fault - I should have started with her previous Bartram novel, "The Return of Captain John Emmett," and then some relationships and comments would have made ...more
Judith Starkston
This review of The Strange Fate of Kitty Easton first appeared in the May 2012 issue of Historical Novels Review where it was featured as an Editors' Choice.

Set in post World War I England, The Strange Fate of Kitty Easton is an unconventional but compelling mystery. As with her first book, Speller’s main character is Laurence Bartram, not a sleuth, but a veteran now a teacher, who like so many of the lost generation, has put his life back together in fits and starts. An architect friend asks L
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Sabina
This is the sequel following The Return of Captain John Emmett, although it would be ok to read as a stand-alone novel as there is no direct continuation of any storyline from the previous book. It's 1924, 3 years after the events of the first book, and Laurence Bartram sets out to the small village of Easton Deadall to join his friends the Bolithos to help create a maze as a memorial to the fallen men of the area and restore a church. It soon becomes clear that everyone at Easton Hall still liv ...more
Jason Speck
I love this series, which captures the loss of the interwar period and displays the remains of The Great War's carnage with unflinching realism and pathos.

Once again Captain Laurence Bartram finds himself drawn into a mystery, as he's asked to examine an old church in Easton Deadall: what happened to five-year old Kitty Easton, long vanished these ten years? And when a servant of the house disappears from the British Exhibition of 1924, Easton Hall seems to be exhibiting a terrifying curse to ri
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Victoria
I loathe starting books mid-series, although from perusing some other reviews, it doesn’t seem as though there is much overlap beyond a few of the characters in this sequel to The Return of Captain John Emmett. There are a few obvious references to its predecessor here, but there is no indication of anything vital connecting the two novels. When I first discovered that this is the second book in a series, I planned on going back and reading it, but now that I have finished this snail-paced histo ...more
Betty
I so thoroughly enjoyed this post WWI English mystery that I purchased the first in the series at full price. There are mysteries within mysteries, with suspects galore, twists you don't see coming, and an actual solution. Along the way you are treated to period details so exacting that when you stop reading, it takes a minute to adjust back to your own reality. In case you get bored with the historical aspect or the mystery, there are also some interesting archaeological notes as well.
S.M.
I nearly gave up after 108 pages when the plot was moving at such a glacial pace, there were so many characters to keep track of and the story wasn't particularly interesting. Then something happened that picked up the pace, but then it gradually wound down to finally end at a two star review. I didn't realize that this was the second book of a series - it could stand alone except for the several-times mention of someone named "Mary" and "Pip" who aren't explained very well - I guess you should ...more
Mary Scott
I chose this book because the cover looked interesting and because it was a mystery crime novel. It turned out to be a great choice, well written and a good mystery. Best of all it was based in Wiltshire near where I live and the storytelling evoked nostalgia for the villages as they had been before and after the Great War.

A sad tale that made you care about all the characters and left you wanting to know what happens to Laurence, Patrick, Frances and of course David. No doubt we will find out
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Veronica
This was OK, although at times I felt the pace was a bit too leisurely; nothing really happened for the first two-thirds of the book. As in The Return of Captain John Emmett, she clearly wants to evoke a period, which she does well, but she could have moved the story along faster at the same time. It never really grabbed me, but I liked the ending; it was nicely understated. I have a feeling her next book will involve Laurence in Italy during the rise of Mussolini ...
Alumine Andrew
I've been keen for Speller to publish another book, as I found The Return of Captain John Emmett an excellent book. And in this novel, Speller has crafted another intriguing and well told story.
There are many elements in this novel, it's complicated. There are equal measures of history, intrigue, ancient rites, architectural trends and a fair few characters to keep track of but the narrative is so well done that it all melds together into a great tale.
We come to care about the characters, we lo
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Amy
The research and setting were very good. I really felt transported! I would recommend this book to readers who like Kate Morton as well as fans of Downton Abbey.

The history was fascinating. Things were just on the edge of the modern world we would recognize. Electricity and international news and travel were available, but not quite telephone service in the rural areas. She really caught the emotion of people trying to find hope and rebuild after the despair of the Great War. It really increased
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Helen
I much preferred this to her earlier book, The Return of Captain John Emmett. Maybe I took against this as the blurb on the cover said 'the new Birdsong, only better'. Reviewers should think twice about making such sweeping statements! However, Speller's second novel was excellent. Beautifully written, well plotted, complex and with a lovely ending. What more can we ask?
Donna Irwin
Loved this slow but wonderfully drawn story. Captured the atmosphere after ww1. Only half way through did I realise I should have read the first book!
Stephanie
Really enjoyed The Return of Captain John Emmet and hoped this would be as good. It was, if not better. Wonderful writer. Can't wait for her next offering!
♣Stephanie♣
It was slow going at first, not much happened the first 30% of the book. I'm glad I picked it back up though. Things do pick up, and there are several mysteries woven into the story, though, not much happens around the mystery of Kitty.
There are some grammar errors but it's not hard to get around, although the issues with quotes around dialogue was the worst for me, and was confusing at times. Fairly minor even if a bit confusing.
I have to say I would have given this a slightly lower star rati
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Diane
Fascinating mystery set in a small village in 1920s England. The landlord's five year-old daughter had disappeared without a trace a decade and a half before, and now another young housemaid has disappeared and a woman's body has been found in a vault under the village church.

The author does a good job of maintaining a fast-paced plot, while developing likable characters and evoking the period setting. She does a good job of character development, given the large number of characters in the stor
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Karen
Second in the series (and I do hope there will be more). In some ways better plotted than the first. Still didn't like Eleanor Bolitho and I'm not sure where the author's obsession with her comes from. To adapt one of our most popular current sayings, "Let her go."

Amazingly complex setting. (Mazes upon mazes, secrets upon secrets!)

Suffers from the lack of Charles. It's like the author forgot he existed, we got one throw away at the end of the story. Bring back Charles, let go of the Bolitho fami
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Bookworm1858
After finishing first book, The Return of Captain John Emmett, I was already craving this second book but knowing I would have to wait. Happily for me, the wait is over!

Unfortunately I barely remembered the characters although the main holdover is Laurence Bartram, Great War veteran and teacher with expertise in churches. He has been invited by a fellow veteran to visit the Easton estate to look at a church there that might have something pretty spectacular. As Laurence settles in, he discovers
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Linda Baker
The second book in Elizabeth Speller's series set in the aftermath of WWI, while interesting and well-plotted does not quite measure up to The Return of Captain John Emmett (first in series). Laurence Bartram has been asked to travel to Easton Deadall in Wiltshire to assess the ancient church on the Easton estate. The invitation comes from William and Eleanor Bolitho who we first met in John Emmett.

Laurence is at first taken by the beauty of the estate, but soon discovers that the village and es
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Ruth
C2011. FWFTB: stately, maze, Wiltshire, memorial, fragile. The Return of Captain John Emmet was a great read and I wanted to sample another book by Ms Speller. The prose and narrative are brilliantly executed and the character of Laurence is even more fleshed out in this book. The action takes place 2-3 years after those contained in TROCE but the Great War continues to cast its shadow on the actions of the survivors. The slow pace at the beginning is deceptive as the tension ratchets up almost ...more
Heidi
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lullyweb
First World War veteran Laurence Bartram made his first appearance in The Return of Captain John Emmett, when he was asked to look into the mysterious suicide of his former classmate. The Strange Fate of Kitty Easton is set shortly afterwards, on a country estate in Wiltshire, where Bartram's friend William Bolitho has been commissioned to create a memorial for the village's war dead. William wants Laurence to investigate the history of the small church on the estate, but before long Laurence ha ...more
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Elizabeth Speller is a poet and author of four non-fiction books including a biography of Emperor Hadrian, companion guides to Rome and to Athens, and a memoir, Sunlight on the Garden. She has contributed to publications as varied as the Financial Times, Big Issue and Vogue and produced the libretto for a requiem for Linda McCartney, Farewell, composed by Michael Berkeley (OUP). She currently has ...more
More about Elizabeth Speller...

Other Books in the Series

Laurence Bartram (2 books)
  • The Return of Captain John Emmett
The Return of Captain John Emmett The First of July: A Novel Following Hadrian: A Second-Century Journey Through the Roman Empire The Sunlight on the Garden: A Memoir of Love, War and Madness Granta City Guides: Rome (Granta City Guides)

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