by Stacey Halls
If you’d like to learn more about this book, check out the other blogs on the tour, see what people have to say on Goodreads and head over to the author’s website. If this sounds like your kind of thing, you’ll find the book on Kindle and paperback on Amazon UK.
West Yorkshire, 1904.
When newly graduated nurse Ruby May takes a position looking after the children of Charles and Lilian England, a wealthy couple from a powerful dynasty of mill owners, she hopes it will be the fresh start she needs. But as she adapts to life at the isolated Hardcastle House, it becomes clear there’s something not quite right about the beautiful, mysterious Mrs England. Ostracised by the servants and feeling increasingly uneasy, Ruby is forced to confront her own demons in order to prevent history from repeating itself. After all, there’s no such thing as the perfect family – and she should know.
Simmering with slow-burning menace, Mrs England is a portrait of an Edwardian marriage, weaving an enthralling story of men and women, power and control, courage, truth and the very darkest deception. Set against the atmospheric landscape of West Yorkshire, Stacey Halls’ third novel proves her one of the most exciting and compelling new storytellers of our times.
I loved both of Stacey Halls‘ books “The Familiars” and “The Foundling” so I was so excited to be offered the opportunity to join the blog tour for her third novel. “Mrs England” is another fantastic read and one I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend!
Just like the others, “Mrs England” is another piece of truly immersive historical fiction. Set in Edwardian England, this book takes place in Yorkshire in 1904. When we first meet our narrator, Ruby May is a newly qualified nurse looking for a new family to serve because her first placement family are emigrating. She’s soon placed with the England family, a family of two adults and four children living on the moors. Ruby loves her new position and the children, but the parents are a bit more of a mystery.
This book was really engaging with some beautiful prose and I finished the whole thing in a day. Exploring themes of childhood, marriage, family and education, the writing keeps you interested throughout and, after a bit of a reading slump in recent months, it was so good to find a book that I didn’t want to put down. I didn’t find the story to lull at any point.
The characters are all likeable and compelling. Although I found the complex history of Ruby to be most intriguing, I also found something to love in each member of the family, in particular the children of Hardcastle House. Decca, Saul, Millie and even baby Charley all have their own personalities and felt like real children of the time. I also liked hearing about the lives of those around the family, including Blaise, the housemaid and her fiancé Mr Booth, a tutor.
One of the things that I valued most whilst reading was the author’s ability to capture the time and location so well and it’s so clear that a lot of research has gone into this work. I really appreciate the power of historical fiction in teaching me about a period of time in an interesting, engaging way and knowing that Halls’ books are based on real places make them extra special (I’m adding the family mill, Hardcastle Crags, to my list of places to visit!). Although fictional, “Mrs England” has given me an idea of what the lives of those who could afford to hire a nurse would be like, as well as those who could not. So many of the little details were interesting to me and made this feel like a very authentic read.
The one and only thing that I found a little odd was the choice of title, as I felt the story would be better named after the nurse herself. Apart from that, I loved this and can’t wait to see what Stacey Halls writes next!
Overall rating: “Mrs England” is Stacey Halls’ third novel and it’s her third masterpiece! This is a really immersive, enjoyable piece of historical fiction that kept me engaged from start to finish. It’s 5 stars from me!
Don’t forget to check out the reviews of other blogs on the tour and if this sounds like your kind of book, support the author by picking up a copy once it’s published!
See my other reviews of books by Stacey Halls here: