Monday, January 19, 2015

Too many temptations in the big city

Just three stragglers (plus Middlemarch, finishing that today) to go! I find that when I have a "lot" of notes (beyond the ever so helpful great! or accents), it's usually because I found fault with the audiobook. Here are my notes, in their entirety for Rhys Bowen's Her Royal Spyness, book one in the adventures of Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie, otherwise known as Georgie:
  • American
  • English variety
I believe that I must be referring to the narrator's skill with accents, but really ... what am I supposed to say here?

I think I downloaded this as a freebie from Audible, a couple of years ago. It's been sitting on the computer since then and I needed a quick book around the holidays. Now, finally, it can be deleted.

Lady Georgie is umpteenth in line for the British throne in the 1930s, which means that she's got all the right social skills, but she's finding that these don't come in very handy when one needs to pay the bills. Bolting from her family's drafty Scottish pile and the threat of a Romanian fiancé, Georgie ends up in London trying to earn a living. She fails as a department store salesgirl, when she lands on the idea of offering her services as a housecleaner when well-to-do families need to open up their London homes. At the same time, her formidable great-aunt-in-law (Queen Mary) asks her to keep an eye on her son and that dreadful woman with whom he seems to be involved.

Then Georgie -- whose been surreptitiously camping in her family's home -- finds the body in the bathtub. And when her half-brother (heir to that Scottish pile) is arrested for the murder, Georgie decides she's got to find the real culprit.

This silly frothy story has noble antecedents (Lord Peter Wimsey), so there's really nothing new here. It's slight and slightly entertaining with plenty of humor and a fairly obvious puzzle. There's a hint of romance and lots of flavor of the glamorous 1930s. It was perfect for all the walks I took during my week off. No more, no less.

Katherine Kellgren shines in another example of a character she has made her own. I think there is an Audie or two in her quiver for these books. Her nasal, upper-crust delivery is utterly apropos for Georgie, the well-bred society girl. Georgie's intelligence and humor are evident in Kellgren's quick, dry narration. As usual, she reads the dialogue with distinct, natural characterizations and as my pitiful notes say, she is in command of a wide range of accents, including her much-married American actress mother and the formidable Queen ("It's not good for young 'gells' to be idle and unchaperoned.").

This was the fifth pseudonymous (that I know of) author I listened to in 2014 (le Carré, Galbraith, Tey, and Lockhart). Bowen's actual name is Janet Quin-Harkin, which sounds pseudonymous as well!

[Georgie is threatened with an invitation to Balmoral when Queen Mary asks for her help, another drafty Scottish castle. This photo was taken by Nick Bramhall and was retrieved from Wikimedia Commons.]

Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen
Narrated by Katherine Kellgren
Audible, 2010.  8:04

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