Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here http://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/
Terry has been reading The Mistress Of Blackstairs by Catherine Curzon
The Mistress of Blackstairs by Catherine Curzon
3.5 out of 5 stars
The Mistress of Blackstairs is set in Covent Garden in the late 18th century, where the mysterious, veiled Madame Moineau runs an establishment in which she provides entertainment for some of the moneyed men of London. In reality she is former courtesan Georgie Radcliffe. In the winter of 1785, two men appear in her life. The first is portrait artist Anthony Lake, looking for the daughter he has never met, and the second is someone she would rather not remember, Viscount Polmear. Georgie and Anthony’s lives become entwined as they face a mutual foe.
There is no doubt that the author knows her subject very well, and she portrays the period in intricate detail, creating a lovely atmosphere of the time and showing the pretensions of the well-to-do against the seamier side of life, with the whores and gambling. It’s a jolly good story, with some evocative description that I enjoyed very much; the dialogue is interesting and adds to the characterisation in each case, from the snooty Viscount Polmear to the dialect of the kitchen staff, young Molly (Georgie’s ward), and the ladies of the night.
I didn’t enjoy the book quite as much as I’d expected to, alas, because I felt it could have benefitted from some redrafting/editing to tighten it up and make the actual prose read more smoothly. The punctuation bothered me; there are blocks with no commas where I thought there should have been some, which meant I had to read passages twice to get their meaning. There was too much use of the words ‘and then’, where a semicolon, instead, would have made the whole paragraph read so much better. I’d sum it up as a very good book, let down by less than satisfactory editing and proofreading. I have read two of the author’s other books and enjoyed them, most recently The Crown Spire.
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.