rating: 5 of 5 stars
It has been six months since the events in A Foreign Affair, and Liberty Lane has settled in London with her unusual household. She is starting to feel a financial pinch, however, and understands that her life cannot continue as it has been. Working as a music instructor does not provide the income she needs to care for her horse, herself, and provide lodgings for herself and her roommate. A letter from her brother in India--boldly telling her that she should marry Daniel Suter--combined with a visit from an aquaintance in Parliament sets her on a path to investigate a murder.
A Foreign Affair was a good book (I rated it four stars), but it was not amazing. It set the background for Libby and her friends, and it told a good story, but it suffered from a malady that often afflicts the first book in a series; it had to provide the set-up for the rest. Now that the stage is set, the readers don't really need to know the struggle that Liberty went through to create herself as an independent woman in London. Now we can get to the good stuff: how she lived as an independent woman. And that's what this book is: Good Stuff.
Caro Peacock fills this book with a delightful level of detail. She clearly knows the period, and she knows the side of life that Dickens was only ever willing to hint at with his Fallen Women. Liberty is not a Fallen Woman (not even in the eyes of someone like Dickens), but she is also not an Angel in the House. She is a character that takes risks in order to live life as she feels necessary. Reading only canonical books from the early Victorian period (such as our friend Dickens) may give the impression that Liberty is an anachronism, but she's not. One of Peacock's gifts is to show that a woman like Liberty could have existed. The Victorian period was not so staid and moral as history has made it out to be, and Peacock helps to reveal something closer to reality.
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