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This historical mystery novel (352 pages) was published in September of 2015 by Penguin. The book takes you to Victorian England. Melissa read A Curious Beginning and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if she didn't recommend it.
Our intrepid heroine Veronica Speedwell (secret and semi-legitimate daughter of the Prince of Wales) is a handful and a half. And we wouldn’t want her any other way.
She’s a lepidopterist — that’s a butterfly hunter — with an affinity for adventure, and she’s armed with a tongue that’s as finely honed as the hatpin she wields as a weapon.
Through a series of misadventures — including an attack at her home during her aunt’s funeral… how rude! — she finds herself in the company of Stoker. Officially known as the Honourable Revelstoke Templeton-Vane, third son of the sixth Viscount Templeton-Vane, Stoker is a surly, handsome naturalist with his own troubled past and a surprising (and endearing) feminist streak.
These two! Always bickering and flirting, and, of course, trying to solve a murder while also curating a natural history museum, as one does.
The banter between our two antiheroes adds the right touch of levity to the peril, and there are plenty of moments that skewer the prim social mores of Victorian England. Veronica is no shrinking violet and routinely gets herself into — and out of — dangerous situations.
This story is packed with suspense and daring exploits, including — but certainly not limited to — a run-in with a traveling circus, a treacherous dunk in the Thames, and menace at the Tower of London.
I shall not see you again. I am off this very afternoon upon my next adventure. — Deanna Raybourn
Strong Sense of Place is a website and podcast dedicated to literary travel and books we love. Reading good books increases empathy. Empathy is good for all of us and the amazing world we inhabit.
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