Mrs England – Stacey Halls

‘Something’s not right here.’
I was aware of Mr Booth’s eyes on me, and he seemed to hold his breath. ‘What do you mean?’
‘In the house. With the family.’

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.

Distant and withdrawn, Lilian shows little interest in her children or charming husband, and is far from the ‘angel of the house’ Ruby was expecting. As the warm, vivacious Charles welcomes Ruby into the family, a series of strange events forces her to question everything she thought she knew. Ostracised by the servants and feeling increasingly uneasy, Ruby must face her 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 West Yorkshire landscape, Stacey Halls’ third novel proves her one of the most exciting and compelling new storytellers of our times.

Book Info: 338 pages. Publisher: Manilla Press. Publication Date: 7 July 2021. Audio Information: Listening Length: 10 hours 51 mins. Narrator: Imogen Wilde.

Stacey Halls was born in Lancashire and worked as a journalist before her debut The Familiars was published in 2019. The Familiars was the bestselling debut hardback novel of that year, won a Betty Trask Award and was shortlisted for the British Book Awards’ Debut Book of the Year. The Foundling, her second novel, was also a Sunday Times top ten bestseller. Mrs England is her third novel.

My Review:

Stacey Halls is one of my “go-to” listens for Audio books and I have listened and loved her previous books The Foundling and The Familiars.

Mrs England is beautifully narrated by Imogen Wilde and once again the listener is transported back in time to the early 1900’s in Yorkshire where we meet Nurse Ruby May who is starting her new position looking after Mr & Mrs England’s four young children.

Ruby is a fascinating woman who has overcome so much hardship and sorrow in her young life. Her determination, loyalty and strength of character are evident from the opening pages and the listener follows Ruby from London to Yorkshire where she meets the enigmatic Mr Charles England and his unfriendly and aloof wife who appears to have no interest in her 4 young children.

This is a really atmospheric novel set in an isolated house in Yorkshire. There is a simmering tension throughout the story and the reader/listener is taken on a journey fraught with secrets and emotions.

Slowly the story reveals Ruby May’s traumatic past and sheds light on Mrs England’s strange and uncaring behaviour. Mrs England is a wonderful historical novel with a touch of gothic and mystery which I thoroughly enjoyed listening to and can’t wait for this authors next book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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