A Pearl For My Mistress Review
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A Pearl for My Mistress takes place in 1934 England. Hester Blake becomes a lady's maid to Lucy Fitzmartin. The Fitzmartin family has lost some of it's splendor in the new century, and their daughter Lucy has taken to writing moderately controversial articles that are in favor of the British Union of Fascists and the new government in Germany. Hester has big dreams of eventually travelling and sees her job as being a way out of her old life. The entanglement between the lady and her maid, and Lucy and the simmering uprising in Europe, cause many secrets...some more disastrous than others.
I was really taken with this book, although it wasn't a quick read, and it took me quite a while to finish it. I'm a fan of historical fiction, and this extremely well-written novel fits right in with my favorite Jane Eyre. The big difference being the relationship between Hester and Lucy, which was a big reason why I accepted the book to read in the first place, if I'm being completely honest with you.
When I worked at the Library, I had a few really good conversations with our Librarian about diversity in books, especially where LGBT people were concerned. We both expressed our wish for more books that had a gay or bisexual character in it, that weren't CAUSE books. A lot of the books with lgbt characters have being gay as the entire plot. In most literature, say in a historical book with a romantic plot or subplot, there could be a liaison between two characters and it is just that...a few paragraphs of a love scene, and then the rest of the book carries on. As a library that tried very hard to make sure we had a catalog of books that made all of our patrons feel represented, we struggled to find books with lgbt characters that felt like mainstream literature. Where is the good contemporary mystery where the detective just happens to be sleeping with someone of the same sex, and it only happens in that one sex scene...and isn't talked about for the rest of the book? Why aren't there REALLY GOOD novels of varying genres out there that are written like mainstream fiction? You know, where the old flame who shows up to throw a kink in the 40 year old woman's rocky marriage is a woman because she's bisexual? I'm sorry for going on a giant, long paragraph tangent here...but I feel like these books need to be written. Because if the story is good, anyone will read and love it, regardless of THEIR sexual orientation, and that can only be a good thing.
A Pearl for My Mistress is one of the books that we were always looking for. This is a damn fine historical fiction book. The characters are well written. The setting is lush. There are secrets and intrigue, back-stabbing and at least one torn corset (or gown, I should say). And the fact that Hester and Lucy fall in love is treated in the same manner as Jane and Rochester. It is more about a Lady falling for her Maid, and less about the fact that they are two women. Do they touch on it being taboo? Of course, but them falling for each other isn't even the main topic of the book. It just happens.
What I found more interesting was the setting being between the World Wars in England, and the many people who were for the new government rising to power in Germany. I have to be honest with you...I didn't pay a lick of attention in my history classes, which is funny mainly because I live in a house full of historians. So, I had to ask my husband and son if there really were a lot of people who felt the old government in England were stuffy and didn't trust them after World War I, and were for the Nazis. I guess I haven't read enough books set in this time frame! (If you have any recommendations, let me know in the comments!)
So, if you are a fan of historical fiction, classical fiction or romance (although it's not a heavy romance), I definitely recommend picking this one up. I thought it was great. I have to thank the author again for sending it my way.
My husband is back at work, my daughter is back at college...and hopefully my routine will be back to normal...so I plan on having a regular schedule of content again! Thank you for sticking with me through this blog drought.