Monday, May 6, 2013

Her Royal Spyness (Her Royal Spyness Mysteries #1), by Rhys Bowen (author), Katherine Kellgren (narrator)

Audible, January 2007

Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie, a.k.a. Georgie, is a very minor royal, 34th in line to the throne, and half sister of the Duke of Glen Garry and Rannoch. Unfortunately, it's the 1930s, and their father, the previous Duke, lost the family fortune and shot himself. Conditions at Castle Rannoch are grim, and made grimmer for Georgie when she discovers that a house party is planned to throw her together with Prince Siegfried of Romania, a potential suitor whom she has already rejected as "Fish-Face." Dull, stiff, unattractive.

She decides to go to London, with an invented excuse of a school friend's wedding, and find a way to support herself and, happily, avoid Siegfried.

Georgie is a very bright young woman with absolutely no practical training of any kind. She has been educated to be a minor royal and an ornament to society, not a self-supporting working woman. On her own in Rannoch House (her sister-in-law Fig [real name Hilda; the Duke, given name Hamish, is known as Binky] insisted they had no money to send a servant with her), she has to learn to lay a fire, cook, and take care of all the practical aspects of life that young ladies of her set never have to concern themselves with.

The experience gives her some practical education, but it's not sufficient to deal with discovering a dead body in her bathtub.

Georgie is a bright, engaging character, and Bowen surrounds her with other lively characters. This is a romp through England between the wars, with dark clouds on the horizon but right now the most threatening problem seeming to be the Prince of Wales's unsuitable fascination with the American, Wallis Simpson. Georgie's mother, a former actress, her non-royal grandfather, a former cop, and a variety of old school friends and acquaintances further enliven the story. These include Belinda Warburton-Stokes, an aspiring dress designer who is having difficulty getting her clients to actually pay her, Marissa, a imposing beauty with no head for drink, and Darcy O'Mara, an utterly charming, but impoverished and therefore unsuitable, Irish peer. Darcy teaches her the art of gate crashing for entertainment and meals, while Belinda instructs her in the fine art of writing convincing endorsements of her own clandestine cleaning service.

The mystery is decent, though we're a good distance from the end when a thumping Clue is dropped on Georgie's head and she misses it. Overall, this is just a lot of fun.

Recommended if you're looking for light reading.

Book trailer:


I borrowed this book from a friend.