Amelia Jones has had a difficult life. Her mother died when she was eleven. Her father passed away when she was eighteen, and she has been under the bAmelia Jones has had a difficult life. Her mother died when she was eleven. Her father passed away when she was eighteen, and she has been under the benevolent eye of her psychiatrist for the last several years. At the beginning of the book, Jane comes into her majority and uses some of the money to buy the Ebb Tide Shop, a little curio cum junk shop full of things like carousel horses, imported bathrobes, and cuckoo clocks. Among the other things there is a hurdy gurdy that Amelia decides to keep for herself. Everything seems fine until she does some minor maintenance and finds a terrifying note. The note is from a woman named Hannah who writes that she has signed a paper and knows that they will kill her soon. Amelia becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to Hannah and sets out to trace the hurdy gurdy back to its original owner.
This is a delightful book. It’s slightly dated, but that just adds to the atmosphere. Gilman has always done a good job of not putting in too many things that feel ridiculous to later readers. Amelia is a charming girl who is going way outside her comfort zone to try to solve this mystery. There is, inevitably, a romance. This time it’s with a graphologist named Joe who she consults about Hannah’s note. There is refreshingly little drama about the whole thing, which I loved. It was somewhat palate cleansing after the soap operas of my Marion Chesney books. The mystery is well crafted and suspenseful. I’m listening on audio and highly recommend that version....more
**spoiler alert** Henrietta Bascombe is an impoverished gentleman's daughter who has inherited a small fortune. Rather than doing the proper thing and**spoiler alert** Henrietta Bascombe is an impoverished gentleman's daughter who has inherited a small fortune. Rather than doing the proper thing and using it as a dowry for herself, Henrietta has determined to go into trade by opening a confectioners shop inLondon. And, to make matters worse, she has taken three other gentlewomen with her. There is her housemate and former school teacher, a young, beautiful army widow of good family, and the local squire's daughter who is tired of being beaten whenever the mood strikes him. The other three women are only in it until they can raise enough money to have dowrys in the younger ladies case and a "proper funeral" in the older's. Henrietta, on the other hand, wants to be rich; filthy, stinking rich. The Earl of Carrisdowne is concerned. His best friend, younger brother, and sister are all under the sway of Bascombe's the new confectioners. His sister is growing fat on their sweets, while his friend and brother seem to have fallen for the wiles of the two pretty shop girls. Carrisdowne does not believe that they could be actual gentlewomen and sets out to close the shop down, thus pitting himself directly against Henrietta. I'll be honest. I quit this book before the end. The Earl was too much of a bastard while Henrietta seemed underdone and limp. Carrisdowne, because he disapproves of the way other adults spend their time, sets out to close down the shop, without a care as to the livelihood of the four women who work there. Then, when that doesn't work, he plans to make Henrietta fall in love with him so he can dump her and make her close the shop due to embarrassment and a broken heart. What a prince. Henrietta, on the other hand, declares that she has no interest in marriage and then turns around and decides to marry Carrisdowne as soon as he shows a healthy interest. The whole book would have been over much sooner if not for the machinations of Henrietta's servant and the spoiled young woman who wants to marry Carrisdowne herself. I quit just as the servant was about to say something terrible about Henrietta to Carrisdowne. I just couldn't handle one more scene of elaborately orchestrated betrayal. ...more
I picked this up at an Audible sale thinking it would be a cute, light, paranormal mystery. And it was those things, but it was also amazingly, unassuI picked this up at an Audible sale thinking it would be a cute, light, paranormal mystery. And it was those things, but it was also amazingly, unassumingly diverse, which is not something I've encountered that much in the cozy mystery genre where most of the protagonists are white, heterosexual, ciswomen. Bekah, our protagonist, is Polynesian. She's adopted. She's bisexual. She is matter-of-fact about her gender fluid half-siblings. The book isn't perfect and it's by no means the height of literary fiction, but it isn't supposed to be. It's entertaining and fun. And it's not just another cookie cutter protagonist, which was a very nice surprise....more