Bowen, Rhys. The Twelve Clues of Christmas.

NY: Berkeley, 2012.

This is the sixth entry in the “Royal Spyness” mystery series featuring Lady Georgiana Rannoch and set in Britain in the early 1930s. Georgie is 34th in line to the throne — well, 35th, now that her brother the duke has had another son — but she’s also completely without funds. What her father, the late previous duke, didn’t waste gambling went for death duties, so Georgie frequently finds herself casting about for ways to earn a living. Not easy when you’re part of the upper aristocracy, actually. She can hardly work as a shop girl. But she manages — usually. Now the Christmas season of 1933 is fast approaching and she’s looking for some way to escape Castle Rannoch.



Spark, Muriel. Symposium.

NY: Houghton Mifflin, 1990.

This is my latest attempt to try to figure out just what it is about Muriel Spark’s novels that get her so many points with the critics. There’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, of course, which is marvelous, but I haven’t really been that impressed by her other works that I’ve read so far. So I keep reading, and wondering.


Published in: on 25 February 2013 at 7:25 am  Leave a Comment  
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Barstow, Phyllida. The English Country House Party.

Wellingboro, UK: Thorsons, 1989.

For the past three or four centuries, but especially in the Victorian and Edwardian eras, the English upper class (titled or not), spent as much time as possible in their often semi-palatial homes in the country. This tradition was very different from the situation in France, Germany, and especially Russia, where an urban-oriented aristocrat only repaired to his country estate when his sovereign ordered him to go there, as punishment.