Title: Mrs. England
Author: Stacey Halls
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: April 12, 2022
Simmering with slow-burning menace, Mrs. England is a portrait of an Edwardian marriage, an enthralling tale of men and women, power and control, courage, truth and the very darkest deception.
West Yorkshire, 1904. When recently graduated Ruby May takes a nanny position looking after the children of Charles and Lilian England, a wealthy couple from a powerful dynasty of mill owners, she hopes it will be the fresh start she needs. But as she adapts to life at the isolated Hardcastle House, it becomes clear something is not quite right about the beautiful, mysterious Mrs. England.
Distant and withdrawn, Lilian shows little interest in her children or charming husband and is far from the angel of the house Ruby was expecting.
As the warm, vivacious Charles welcomes Ruby into the family, a series of strange events forces her to question everything she thought she knew. Ostracized by the servants and increasingly uneasy, Ruby must face her own demons in order to prevent history from repeating itself. After all, there’s no such thing as the perfect family—she should know.
This captivating new feminist novel from Sunday Times bestselling author Stacey Halls is her third work of fiction and proves her one of the most exciting and compelling new storytellers of our time.
1904: When the family that nurse Ruby May has been working for decides to emigrate to America, she needs to find another position in England. Her agency sets her up with Mr. and Mrs. England and their four young children. However, she discovers some mysterious things in the house. Mrs. England is distant with the children and seems confused. Mr. England is welcoming and wants Ruby to do everything with the children. Ruby worries that her own family history is about to be repeated with the England family, so she must do everything she can to prevent it and protect the children.
This book reminded me of Jane Eyre and The Turn of the Screw, which are two of my favourite gothic stories. It had a spooky and mysterious atmosphere like both of those stories. However, this story had more of a realistic feel than The Turn of the Screw. Ruby didn’t seem like an unreliable narrator because most of the strange events could be logically explained.
There was a lot of build up to the big reveals at the end. Hints of Ruby’s mysterious past were given throughout the story but it wasn’t explained until the end. I had to read the last page a couple of times because I was so surprised at what happened. It was a great ending!
Some content triggers for this story are: mentions of suicide, suggestion of rape, murder, asthma attack, mental illness.
Thank you HarperCollins for providing a copy of this book.
What to read next:
The Foundling by Stacey Halls
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
About the author:
Stacey Halls grew up in Rossendale, Lancashire. She studied journalism at the University of Central Lancashire and has written for publications including the Guardian, Stylist, Psychologies, the Independent, the Sun and Fabulous. Both of her first two novels, The Familiars and The Lost Orphan, were Sunday Times bestsellers, Mrs England is her third novel.
Have you read Mrs. England? What did you think of it?