If you’ve read a few of my reviews, you’ll know that not only do I like to read books, I also love to look at and smell books too. I love books where the publisher has clearly made an effort with the design, instead of slapping any old stock image on the cover and Bob’s-your-Uncle, and The Death of Lyndon Wilder and the Consequences Thereof is exactly one of those books. When it arrived at my house, I was thrilled to see that the book was a small but chunky volume, in keeping with the style of the early 1800s – the period in which the book is set – and the cover had a foxed, aged look about it as though it really was an old book.
The story begins with Governess Anna Arbuthnot – she has been employed by the Wilder family to care for young Lottie whose father, the eponymous Lyndon Wilder, has been killed in the Napoleonic War. Anna finds the Wilder estate, Ridley Hall, to be a mysterious house, consumed by grief and still haunted by Lyndon’s charismatic spirit and Lottie to be a wild and unruly child, but as Lottie begins to warm to Anna she thinks that she might be able to make a real difference to this orphaned child.
Major Thomas Wilder, Lyndon’s brother and now heir to Ridley, is forced to leave the army life that he loves to return home and pick up where Lyndon left off, but when questions are raised over Lyndon’s death, he’s forced to put his own life on the line.
This book is exactly my cup of tea; I really enjoy historical fiction and, although it is a new novel, it has a real ‘Jane Austen’ feel about it. I think what I most liked is that it doesn’t take into account any of our modern day social norms – history hasn’t been rewritten to give the ladies any sort of feministic leanings – in fact Lady Ridley is told at one point ‘not to worry’ herself over the finances, it’s ‘not something ladies should be troubled with’. It would be all too easy, for example, to make Anna a forthright heroine who is outspoken and never keeps to her place, but instead, she is a meek character who still manages to make an impression through her subtle way of dealing with people, especially her charge.
The plot is suitably romantic, but also involves mystery as the circumstances of Lyndon Wilder’s life and death are revealed piece by piece, while not giving away the final shocking details until quite late on. It was a very easy read, and very easy to lose yourself in (Oh Major Wilder! and all that sort of stuff…), I’d highly recommend it.
Note: I was sent a copy of this book to review, but all opinions are, of course, my own.