by Stacey Halls
Beginning in London in1904, Mrs. England is an atmospheric, suspensful novel that will keep you reading. Ruby May is employed by the prestigious Norland Institute that has trained her to be a nurse to children of wealthy families. When the current family she works for plans to move to America, Ruby decides that she can’t move with them because she helps her family financially and is close to her younger sister who has a physical disability. Ruby must find another job quickly. When a job becomes available to work for a wealthy family with four children in West Yorkshire, she leaps at the chance.
When Ruby arrives at the isolated home in Yorkshire, Hardcastle House, she immediately begins to feel uneasy. The servants are distant and unfriendly and something seems to be wrong with Mrs. England. She stares off vacantly, is cold and distant, ignores her children and spends hours in her room with various ailments. Charles England, on the other hand, is friendly and charismatic and seems to enjoy his children. The England family is part of a family mill dynasty and many people in the town work in the mill and for Mr. England. Mr. England tells Ruby to discuss things that concern the children or the running of the household with him instead of his wife. Ruby hears the servants whispering and finds out that Mr. England locks his wife in her room because she wanders at night and he wants to protect her from injuring herself in their isolated setting on the moors.
As Ruby cares for the children and begins to settle into her surroundings, she starts to realize that something isn’t quite right with the Englands and their marriage. She doesn’t know who to believe, she doesn’t receive letters that have been sent to her and her sense of isolation intensifies. Hardcastle House has secrets but Ruby is hiding a secret of her own.
This is the first book I have read by Stacey Halls and I enjoyed it. There were some surprises and a twist at the end that I didn’t see coming. If you enjoy historical mysteries with a strong sense of place, gothic overtones and family secrets, you should enjoy Mrs. England.
Thanks to Mira publishers and NetGalley for providing me with an advanced reading copy of Mrs. England in exchange for an honest review.