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Monday, March 4, 2013

Book Review: Lady of Ashes by Christine Trent + Giveaway

lady of the ashes

Lady of Ashes by Christine Trent
Book 1 in Lady of Ashes Historical Mystery Series
ARC, Paperback, 420 pages
Kensington
February 26, 2013
★★★★☆

Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery

Source: Received book from the Author as part of Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour

“In 1861 London, Violet Morgan is struggling to establish a good reputation for the undertaking business that her husband has largely abandoned. She provides comfort for the grieving, advises them on funeral fashion and etiquette, and arranges funerals.

Unbeknownst to his wife, Graham, who has nursed a hatred of America since his grandfather soldiered for Great Britain in the War of 1812, becomes involved in a scheme to sell arms to the South. Meanwhile, Violet receives the commission of a lifetime: undertaking the funeral for a friend of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. But her position remains precarious, especially when Graham disappears and she begins investigating a series of deaths among the poor. And the closer she gets to the truth, the greater the danger for them both…”

I have enjoyed all of the previous books I have read by Christine Trent; however the Victorian period was somewhat new to me in terms of fiction. Trent has kept her books interesting by choosing unique professions for her main characters and that tradition has continued here as well, in the form of a female undertaker. Not only is this a profession that I don’t know too much about in the modern sense, I don’t know anything about how this was done in the 1800’s.

One of the aspects that I thought was interesting was the exploration of the unacceptability of a female working in this profession. This point is made again and again by various commoners, politicians, and even Queen Victoria herself. At the same time you get to see the British viewpoints on embalming – in the face of its growing usage in the United States during the Civil War. There were a lot of traditions of funerals that we learn the history behind in this novel.

The plot was a little all over the place for me. We get story segments of various people including: Charles Frances Adams (diplomat to Briton from the United States), Queen Victoria, Graham (Violet’s husband), Violet, and a couple others. While the stories all came together eventually and these segments made sense, while reading it was hard to gauge the importance or keep track of what was going on. I think I would have preferred the narrative to be limited in scope of perspective. The mystery that Violet gets caught up in made sense to the story and didn’t feel contrived at all – which I think can sometimes happen with historical mysteries. I can tell you that I certainly did not figure out the mystery.

For the most part I really liked the characters and thought they were well written. I didn’t like Graham at all – which I don’t think I was supposed to – but it was hard to see the evolution of him through Violet’s eyes.

The ending of this book leads me to wonder if Trent will trade in her English setting for an American one in the continuation of the series or in future books outside the series.

Author Christine Trent also has written the following: The Queen’s Dollmaker, A Royal Likeness, and By the King’s Design. There are also expected to be two other books in the Historical Mystery series. You can visit Christine’s website for additional information about the book. If you would like to preview the story before reading it, why not try out this excerpt of the book?

My reviews of other books by this author:

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Here are some choices for purchasing the book: Amazon, B&N, RJ Julia (my fav indie bookstore).

Lady of Ashes Tour Banner FINAL

You can follow along with the rest of the tour by visiting the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour site or on Twitter with the following hashtag: #LadyOfAshesVirtualTour.

I also have a giveaway for you – one copy of Lady of Ashes by Christine Trent to one lucky winner – and it is open Internationally.  The last day to enter is March 24th.  To enter, complete the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

23 comments:

  1. Thanks for the giveaway - love the cover on this book!

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    1. I think the cover is pretty neat too.

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  2. This sounds like an incredible book! I would love to get my hands on it.

    Thanks for the giveaway. :-)

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  3. Her books have such interesting protagonists.

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    1. They do! I really appreciate the fact that these women actually have a profession.

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  4. I love the idea of a female Victorian era undertaker...so unusual! Thanks for noting that it is a bit rambling....that isn't always a bad thing as long as I keep it in mind when reading the book. Thanks for the giveaway!

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    1. You are right - it's not always a bad thing - and wasn't really here either - I just wanted it to get back to the main story at hand, not all the side stories all though they were important.

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  5. I love historical romance in which the heroine is a mind strong woman! Being an undertaker, at that time, could not have been easy to live! thank you for the giveaway of LADY OF ASHES!

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    1. No it certainly wouldn't have been.

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  6. I am really looking forward to reading this book. Thank you for the chance to win it.

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  7. I am very excited to read this one. Like you, the Victorian period is new to me, but I think the idea of a female undertaker. I work for the state medical examiner's office so I think it would be interesting to read about my professional field in a different time period.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

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    1. Oh that is definitely a good connection with the book. Coming from your angle, I think you would really like it. There is one part where she is trying to deal with the Dr. who signed off of the case and she argues with him about an autopsy.

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  8. This sounds like such a good book, I am really hoping to win a copy! Thanks for the review and giveaway!

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  9. I read this one and really liked it too. I didn't care for the US Civil war aspect in the story but I understood why the author included it. Great review!

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  10. added to my WishList!!
    thank you for the giveaway!!

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  11. This sounds like a great read!! Thanks for the giveaway!

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  12. Very interesting!! Do you think the author did a good job with portraying the lead as a career woman, even if the rest of society didn't accept her?

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    1. I think she did. She addresses with inner monologue the main characters perceptions about society and what she herself thinks.

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  13. Sounds like a good book. I heard about it from the Mystery Guild.

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  14. This sounds like a cool book. A female undertaker in Victorian England isn't something you often read about :)

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    1. That is one thing I really like about this author is that she picks professions for her characters that would have been everyday but that you don't think about!

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  15. I haven't read anything by this author. Sounds like it would be good book. Thank you for a chance to win through your nice give away.

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Thanks for leaving your comments! I love reading them and try to reply to all!