Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Lady of Ashes by Christine Trent

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Read: February 3, 2013

Only a woman with an iron backbone could succeed as an undertaker in Victorian London, but Violet Morgan takes great pride in her trade. While her husband, Graham, is preoccupied with elevating their station in society, Violet is cultivating a sterling reputation for Morgan Undertaking. She is empathetic, well-versed in funeral fashions, and comfortable with death’s role in life—until its chilling rattle comes knocking on her own front door. Violet’s peculiar but happy life soon begins to unravel as Graham becomes obsessed with his own demons and all but abandons her as he plans a vengeful scheme. And the solace she’s always found in her work evaporates like a departing soul when she suspects that some of the deceased she’s dressed have been murdered. When Graham’s plotting leads to his disappearance, Violet takes full control of the business and is commissioned for an  undertaking of royal proportions. But he’s certain there’s a killer lurking in the London fog, and the next funeral may be her own. 

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Victorian Woman in Mourning
Christine Trent's Lady of Ashes took me by surprise. Being something of a history junkie the blurb caught my attention straight away. A female undertaker in Victorian England? Sign me up.   

The true beauty of this piece is in how Trent recreated not only the undertaker's profession, but also the Victorian traditions and customs surrounding mourning. She delicately introduces her readers to both the professional and personal sides of death through Violet, examining the science of how the deceased were tended, as well as the various ways in which their loved ones expressed grief. The fiction woven around it is fun, but I must admit this glimpse into the 1860s is what kept me turning the pages. 

Another fun aspect of the story is Graham's deep-seated hatred of the United States. American fiction tends to vilify the English, I suppose it has something to do with the Revolution, but that is beside the point. Though he was far from my favorite character, I enjoyed the perspective he brought to the table. 

On that note I also found Violet quite intriguing. She is a female in a male dominated profession, a wife who struggles to accomplish basic household management, but also a woman who is coming into her own. She really is something of a mouse at the beginning of the book, but her personal journey from beginning to end was a pleasure to read. 

Lady of Ashes is a lighter historic mystery, but a delightful and fascinating one that is well-worth undertaking.

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Violet Morgan often wondered why she was so skilled at dressing a corpse, yet was embarrassingly incompetent in the simplest household task, such as selecting draperies or hiring housemaids.
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Check out all the stops on the historical fiction virtual book tour of christine Trent's lady of Ashes

Monday, February 25
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Tuesday, February 26

Review & Giveaway at Flashlight Commentary

Wednesday, February 27

Review at Peppermint, Ph.D.

Thursday, February 28

Review at The Broke and the Bookish

Friday, March 1

Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Monday, March 4

Review at The Novel Life
Review & Giveaway at The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, March 5
Review at Library of Clean Reads

Wednesday, March 6
Review at Let Them Read Books

Thursday, March 7
Review & Giveaway at Book of Secrets
Interview & Giveaway at Library of Clean Reads 

Friday, March 8
Interview & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Monday, March 11
Review at Impressions in Ink

Tuesday, March 12
Review & Giveaway at Always with a Book

Wednesday, March 13
Review at From the TBR Pile

Thursday, March 14
Review at La Canape and Historical Tapestry

Friday, March 15
Guest Post at Historical Tapestry
Monday, March 18
Review & Giveaway at Confessions of an Avid Reader
Tuesday, March 19
Review & Giveaway at The Eclectic Reader
Wednesday, March 20
Review & Giveaway at Ageless Pages Reviews
Thursday, March 21
Review at Enchanted by Josephine
Friday, March 22
Interview & Giveaway at Enchanted by Josephine


Audra said...

Your comments have me SO.freakin.EXCITED for this book! Like you, the premise completely captivated me and the quote you pulled out at the end of your review was awesome. So eager for this one!

Holly (2 Kids and Tired) said...

Wow. How did I miss this tour? This sounds fantastic. Love your review.

Anonymous said...

Glad you both enjoyed the review and good luck in the giveaway! Its a good one. :)