*I received a free copy of this book with thanks to the author and Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources blog tours. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: It was teatime on Tuesday, and nobody had died yet…
In a world where the men are at war and the women keep the home fires burning, Christabel Fyttleton is faced with domestic crises involving lodgers, rationing, maypole dancers and Kaiser Bill (don’t ask!) – as well as her most daunting challenge ever.
Not only that! There’s a sudden death – again – as though she hasn’t enough to cope with already.
But is it murder, misadventure, or merely misfortune?
The Merry Month of Murder is an original and warmhearted story about a British upper-class-but-in-straitened-circumstances family during WWI.
The title and blurb suggest a traditional cosy murder mystery, but the mystery element actually takes a back seat to what is more of a gentle, light-hearted family drama, liberally seasoned with romance and historical detail. The murder is almost incidental to the plot!
Whilst I was initially a little disappointed at the lack of victims and suspects, it didn’t take long for Nicola Slade to hook me in with the true strength of this series: the quirky memorable characters. The story follows the daily tribulations of Christy, her sisters, Alix and Addy, and her grandmother, as they struggle to make ends meet during a time of rationing and mourning for those lost in the war.
If that makes it sound like an unhappy novel, that is absolutely not the case! Joy, determination and the old British ‘Blitz spirit’ bubble from the pages, as the young women set their minds to their various tasks of volunteer nursing, running a guest house, acting as secretary for an irascible author, writing adventure books, studying for exams and raising chickens. Throw in some rather difficult local characters that need to be carefully ‘managed’ and a trio of potential love interests, and the Fyttleton sisters are rushed off their feet long before the dead body dropped at Christy’s.
Nicola Slade captures and holds the reader with this warm and witty depiction of family life during a difficult period in history, and the family she introduces us to is a very endearing one. I really felt like I knew Christy, Alix and Addy by the end of the book, as personal friends, and was eager to find out what would happen to them next. I was reminded very much of lovely old-fashioned British drama/comedy/romance series such as The Darling Buds of May or Last of the Summer Wine (if Foggy, Compo and Clegg had been attractive young ladies!).
Whilst I would hesitate to describe this as a murder mystery exactly, I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a cosy, well-written family story, full of female strength, solidarity, humour and heart.
It was teatime on Tuesday, and nobody had died yet. Nor had anyone risen from a watery grave or descended into the muddy ditch that was grandly known as the ha-ha. This was an improvement on the events of last month.– Nicola Slade, The Merry Month of Murder
I shan’t go into detail about the above occurrences, all of which really did happen, but I’ll sum it up; partly, I admit, to try to get it straight in my own head. It’s just as well I had no idea at the time that things were going to go from bad to worse and that we’d end up having to deal with a dead body.