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Thursday, June 21, 2018

Lady of Ashes - Christine Trent

Lady of Ashes by Christine Trent

First Paragraph(s):

I killed a man today, and although I didn't mean to do it, I must confess that it wasn't unpleasant at all.
     I suppose some might call it murder, but is it really murder if the victim deserved it?  If he was especially irritating?
     Unfortunately, most societies frown upon this thing called murder, so I suppose I shall have to reinvent myself.  Again.  If only one could declare the deceased an obnoxious bore or an unrepentant fool and be done with it, there wouldn't be quite so much fuss.

My Thoughts:

After completing Christine Trent's new book, No Cure For the Dead, I decided that I needed to try her series featuring a Victorian era woman who is an undertaker by profession.  Yes, this author does research some interesting and dark aspects of that most famous era.  In Lady of Ashes, we are introduced to Violet Morgan and her husband, Graham.  Actually, these two make a very brief appearance in No Cure For the Dead, which takes place a few years before.  Graham Morgan is the proprietor of Morgan Undertaking, a family business.  And Violet definitely has an affinity for the care and concern that is necessary to work with families who are grieving - plus deal with dead bodies.  I was caught up in the historical detail of Lady of Ashes.  Christine Trent has definitely done her research on Victorian society.  There is an Author Note at the end of the book which points out more info about events and also tells what she changed to fit her story.

I did like Violet Morgan a lot.  Graham Morgan - not so much.  I learned all kinds of things about not only the customs for funerals and mourning in the 1800's, but there was a lot of talk about other historical events at the time.  The reader learns about the American Civil War and how the British government viewed that conflict.  Violet meets Prince Albert at one point and makes a positive impression on him.  After Albert's death, she is summoned by Queen Victoria and required to help with his funeral.  There are also anonymous diary entries included that are written by a killer, but who?  The book was a little long, but I barely noticed.  I'm looking forward to continuing the series which has six books.  The next is Stolen Remains and I suspect it will be appearing on my Kindle soon. 

Blurb:

Only a woman with an iron backbone could succeed as an undertaker in Victorian London, but Violet Morgan takes great pride in her trade. While her husband, Graham, is preoccupied with elevating their station in society, Violet is cultivating a sterling reputation for Morgan Undertaking. She is empathetic, well-versed in funeral fashions, and comfortable with death's role in life--until its chilling rattle comes knocking on her own front door.

Violet's peculiar but happy life soon begins to unravel as Graham becomes obsessed with his own demons and all but abandons her as he plans a vengeful scheme. And the solace she's always found in her work evaporates like a departing soul when she suspects that some of the deceased she's dressed have been murdered. When Graham's plotting leads to his disappearance, Violet takes full control of the business and is commissioned for an undertaking of royal proportions. But she's certain there's a killer lurking in the London fog, and the next funeral may be her own.

26 comments:

  1. Sounds very intriguing. That first sentence sure had me hooked.

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    1. Yes, it kind of takes your breath away doesn't it? LOL

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  2. Okay. You just made this one move higher up on my Get A Hold Of List!

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    1. Yay! I like it when I convince you to add to your list. Fair play - you do it to me all the time. Ha!

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  3. I've only read one other mystery featuring a female as a funeral home owner, and it was a modern one. I'm curious about this one for several reasons and love a Victorian setting!

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    1. I liked all the extra info included, though I have seen some readers say it had too much of that. I didn't think so.

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  4. Nice review, Kay. I always appreciate a well-researched historical novel. There's a copy of this book waiting for me on the library hold shelf, so I hope to have it in my hands soon.

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    1. Hope you'll like it too, Catherine!

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  5. This sounds like an interesting read. I like Victorian settings, and strong female characters, so I might just have to give this one a try. :)

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    1. Violet is a strong character. And she's kind of unique in many ways. She talks to the deceased as she prepares them - kine of like Ducky on NCIS (if you watch that).

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  6. That sounds like an interesting book. The first paragraphs do draw me into it. I am trying to buy less books between now and the September book sale, but I will put her books on the list.

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    1. I do understand about trying to buy less books. LOL

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  7. This sounds like another one I have to try! Must be so interesting for the author to have two series with similar settings. I wonder how she must keep everything right in her mind!

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    1. Probably is difficult a bit and then also helps because the research from one could lead to ideas for the other.

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  8. I read this book and the next Stolen Remains, then forgot to continue on with the series. I do remember liking them, so I'm eager to read the new one, No Cure For the Dead.

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    1. I think there are six of these now. I'm glad to have a different sort of historical mystery series to dip in and out of.

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  9. Sounds like a good one. I haven't read anything by this author, but this looks like a great place to start. Thanks for another awesome-sounding rec!

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    1. You are very welcome, Susan. This one was a bit different, but also quite interesting to me. I'm planning on continuing to read the series.

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  10. A heroine undertaker . . . I love it. I think I may have this book on my TBR pile, or at the very least on my wish list. I am glad you ended up liking it, Kay. I think I will too.

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    1. I think you would like this one, Wendy. It's different, but quite interesting.

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  11. I'm fascinated by Trent's concepts. I love historical mysteries and I love how she really puts an unusual spin on them. I'll definitely be trying this author!

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    1. I'll be interested to hear if her books suit you, Katherine. :-)

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  12. OK, I'm going to have to do away with my general avoidance of reading series and try this one! It sounds fascinating and I LOVE all things gothicy-Victorian-creepy like this. Thanks for the review and for getting into what you really enjoyed most about the book. You've sold me on it!

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    1. See, that's my aim. To sell all the blog readers on the books. Ha! It's the former library staffer coming out in me. I loved connecting patrons with just the right book. Best part of my job.

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  13. Sounds interesting. I think I will enjoy more by this author also.

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    1. I think you'd likely enjoy this book too, especially if you are liking the Florence book.

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Thanks for stopping by! I am so happy to hear your thoughts and will respond as soon as I can. Happy Reading!