The Death of Lyndon Wilder and the Consequences Thereof by E A Dineley
|The Death of Lyndon Wilder and the Consequences Thereof by E A Dineley|
|Category: Historical Fiction|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: An Austen/Bronte homage with all the genre boxes ticked and two wonderful child characters to keep the pages turning.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 592||Date: March 2013|
Anna Arbuthnot moves to Ridley Hall as governess for Lord and Lady Charles Wilder's granddaughter, Lottie. Lottie's mother died years before and her father Lyndon has just been killed in the Napoleonic Wars. Lady Charles has all but beatified Lyndon as no one could ever be as wonderful, caring or heroic. In fact she only tolerates Lottie because of her family likeness but things are about to change. Lyndon's younger brother, Thomas, returns from the war accompanied by the secrets that stalk him and intentions that will shake Ridley Hall.
This is a book that seeps early 19th century retro. The hardback is small and squat as was the fashion, the cover has the artificial patina of age about it, and even the author's name carries gravitas. This is entirely intentional on the part of novelist E A Dineley (or Libby as her friends and Amazon know her) as she evokes the spirit of Charlotte Bronte and Jane Austen in this, her debut novel.
There are indeed nods of recognition to the novel's predecessors along the way. Some may call them 'clichés' but this is such a good book a word like that may be deemed a little uncharitable. We have a Jane-Eyre type governess, a secretive soldier, a father as put-upon as Mr Bennett, a widow looking for a supporting income… er… husband and a misunderstanding or two, not to mention a mother we'd like to slap with a wet haddock. This homage is presented so that we recognise it as we would an old friend. Cleverly, they (and our knowledge of the people on which they were modelled) don't dictate the plot's direction so it's not all a foregone conclusion. The paths that are predictable are comfortably rather than annoyingly so and they meander through a story that still provides surprises. And of course there's a modern twist: the two wonderful children.
Lottie and Horatio are, for me, the characters of the story. Yes, I loved Anna and quickly warmed to the witty, assertive Thomas, cheering in a very non-demure way during one specific speech but I adored the children. The dyslexic (though nobody refers to it as it's not been invented yet) Lottie is deliciously precocious, asking the sort of questions that we readers would probably ask given half a chance. The mollycoddled Horatio changes totally as the novel progresses, becoming playful (and making me cry) as he spends more time with her and away from the awful Mrs Kemp. (Apologies if I'm judging her by modern day standards but a second wet haddock may prove unnecessary.)
The language is pseudo-classic in that Libby Dineley has captured the elegance of the writing while making it more understandable to the modern mind than the Regency writers could. There are moments when I felt as if things were going a little slowly but they were few and far between.
When all's said and done, it is a truth universally acknowledged that E A Dineley has a glowing future ahead of her as a novelist. Ok, perhaps not universally acknowledged just yet, but give it time; this particular novel is a very good place to start.
If you've enjoyed this and would like to read another novel that has used this era for inspiration, we recommend The Taste of Sorrow by Jude Morgan.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Death of Lyndon Wilder and the Consequences Thereof by E A Dineley at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Death of Lyndon Wilder and the Consequences Thereof by E A Dineley at Amazon.com.
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