Monday, May 18, 2020

Review: The Mitford Scandal by Jessica Fellowes

The Mitford Scandal (Mitford Murders, Book #1)
by Jessica Fellowes
Release Date: January 21st 2020
2020 Minotaur Books
Kindle Edition; 374 Pages
ISBN: 978-1250316806
ASIN: B07Q353P9Q
Genre: Fiction / Historical / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

3 / 5 Stars

The year is 1928, and after the death of a maid at a glamorous society party, fortune heir Bryan Guinness seizes life and proposes to eighteen-year-old Diana, most beautiful of the six Mitford sisters. The maid's death is ruled an accident, and the newlyweds put it behind them to begin a whirlwind life zipping between London's Mayfair, chic Paris and hedonistic Berlin. Accompanying Diana as her lady's maid is Louisa Cannon, as well as a coterie of friends, family and hangers on, from Nancy Mitford to Evelyn Waugh.

When a second victim is found in Paris in 1931, Louisa begins to see links with the death of the maid two years previously. Now she must convince the Mitford sisters that a murderer could be within their midst . . . all while shadows darken across Europe, and within the heart of Diana Mitford herself.

My Thoughts
The Mitford Scandal is a really difficult book to rate simply because I feel like the author kind of lost track of what kind of book she was writing.  Don't get me wrong, the Mitford Sisters are extremely fascinating in and of themselves, and if this was a book just about their lives, I wouldn't have a problem becoming enmeshed in their lives and in their goings-ons, but the book is a mystery, one which spanned over four years, and I really feel like the mystery got lost amidst the daily lives of these interesting women.  

First of all, this time span is a long time to try and keep a reader's interest in the plot.  Oh, I know it can take years for a murder to be solved, but that is simply not the issue here.  The ultimate solution to what happened wasn't that mind-blowing and for those who read a lot of mystery novels, it was pretty obvious who the culprit was. I spent a lot of the time trying to figure out how the author was going to ever get around to her big reveal and it wasn't that exciting or mind-blowing as I think she meant it to be.  

I figured the author wanted to get Diana Mitford to the point where she met Sir Oswald Mosley, but I don't really see why.  I am quite familiar with her story and I really think it could have waited until another book for that to happen as her meeting him didn't really have any bearing on the mystery.  And then the author could have focused a lot more on the mystery and created much more suspense surrounding that event rather than focusing on Diana, whom I couldn't stand.  And if the author wanted to write a historical fiction book just about Diana Mitford Guinness, I wouldn't have a problem with that either, but mixing the two just didn't work.  I kind of felt like the author was playing a ping-pong game with herself as to what type of novel she wanted to write - mystery or fiction about Diana.  And because of this, both came up short.  

And honestly, having Louisa Cannon as a lady's maid just so she could be involved in the events didn't quite work for me.  I was trying to work out how that happened - how Louisa went from being almost part of the family, to having to enter the servants' door and being treated with disrespect.  I did like having Guy back in her life and was quite happy at the turn of events there though.  

The Mitford Scandal was an interesting book at its core, but being marketed as a mystery novel, I do have to evaluate it as such, and in that respect, it fell short for me.  However, the Mitford Sisters are such interesting people, and there is so much material there with which an author can work.  I don't quite feel the mystery worked in this book, but like I said, the lives of these women are fascinating.  And with Unity almost grown up, it will be interesting to see what this author writes about next.  Such interesting times ahead.  I would love to see this author tackle a historical fiction novel about these women that is not marketed as a mystery as I think she could do great things.  Gosh, these women were fascinating.  And with some of them developing an interest in Fascism, interesting times ahead.   


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