Today’s team review is from Cathy, she blogs at http://betweenthelinesbookblog.com
Cathy has been reading The Mistress Of Blackstairs by Catherine Curzon
The mysterious, always heavily veiled in public and very French Madam Moineau, Georgina Radcliffe in a former life, is the mistress of the hugely successful brothel, Blackstairs, in Covent Garden. It’s the winter of 1785 and Georgina’s life is about to be changed by two men. It’s almost ten years since, as Georgina, she was left for dead by her abusive husband and she hasn’t seen him since. Until he turns up at Blackstairs, about to be married and looking for a mistress he can set up for his exclusive pleasure.
Artist Anthony Lake, recently returned from Europe with the realisation he is the father of a young girl, is searching for his daughter. He finds her under Georgina’s care. When Anthony learns his daughter’s mother was murdered, he vows to find the person responsible and avenge her death. The fates of the three become more and more entwined as events unfold and danger looms.
Obviously very knowledgeable about the era, Catherine Curzon portrays the more unsavoury aspects of 18th century London vividly, the atmosphere of the time and place apparent and believable throughout, with realistic dialogue and clothing descriptions. I like the way Molly, Anthony’s daughter, sometimes seems older than her years, due to life she leads, but at other times appropriate to her age.
Secrets abound and are about to be laid bare. Only a select few know the results of Georgina’s traumatic past and her real identity, but the reappearance of the husband she hoped never to see again forces her to confront the past. Anthony isn’t all he seems, either, and his former life is revealed as the story progresses and the threads are drawn together. The plot is good and I really liked Georgina, Molly and Anthony, but the narrative just felt quite slow in places. Perhaps tightening it up would add to the suspense and keep the reader more engaged.
Everyone thought she was dead…
In 18th century Covent Garden, Madam Moineau, is the mistress of Blackstairs, an establishment catering to the finest clients in London.
The mysterious, veiled lady of Paris was better known in the past as a former courtesan and went by the considerably less exotic moniker of Georgina Radcliffe, or Georgie to her friends.
In the winter of 1785 two men appear in Madam Moineau’s life.
Rogue artist Anthony Lake has recently returned from Europe. Lake is on his own assignment, searching the streets of London for the daughter he only recently discovered he had fathered.
He learns that the child’s mother is dead, brutally killed and Anthony finds himself on an unexpected mission to avenge his ex-lovers’ murder.
Nearly ten years after he left Madam Moineau, then known as Georgina, for dead, Viscount Edmund Polmear returns to London.
He has a new fiancé in tow and is soon to be found around Blackstairs, seeking a further mistress for his own pleasure.
His sudden appearance is a shock for the victim that he believed he left for dead, forcing Madam Moineau to face the horrors of her own past head on.
Anthony Lake and Madam Moineau’s lives become inevitably and inextricably entwined as they find themselves up against the fearsome and unforgiving Viscount Polmear.
About the author
Catherine Curzon is a royal historian better known as Madame Gilflurt, the author of A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life (www.madamegilflurt.com), where she blogs on all matters 18th century.
She has been published on matters as diverse as Marie Antoinette’s teeth and Grace Kelly’s love life. Her work has been featured by BBC History Extra, All About History, History of Royals, Explore History and Jane Austen’s Regency World, the official magazine of the Jane Austen Centre. She is thrilled to provide an online home for An Evening with Jane Austen, and her additional material for the show was performed at the V&A.
Catherine has performed the Royal Pavilion, Brighton, as part of An Evening with Jane Austen, and spoken at Dr Johnson’s House and Lichfield Guildhall.
Catherine holds a Master’s in Film Studies from the University of Nottingham. When not dodging the furies of the guillotine, she writes fiction set deep in the underbelly of Georgian London.
She resides atop a steep hill in Brontë country with a rakish colonial gentleman, a hound, and a feline.