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Becky H. (Chicago, IL)
Restoration England in love and murder
I enjoyed this murder mystery with a bit of a love story entwined. The story is engaging with hints dropped carefully without revealing the murderer until the end. I liked the parts about "newspapers" and "police" and thought they added depth and realism to the story. The main character – Lucy, a chambermaid soon elevated to Lady's maid – is interesting with a backstory and a future that may include sequels to this book. The supporting characters are well drawn and add to the story.
Love to read
The ending may not satisfy all, but does support the notion of sequels. Possible subjects for book groups might include the role of women in society, the lack of education or the ability to read, religious leaders as role models, how catastrophic illness is treated, marriage as political/monetary entity, the power of the press and the power of money and position.
Restoration England (1665 AD) is carefully portrayed with only one glaring "Yuck" (on page 59), a word that was unlikely to be on the lips of a chambermaid in a wealthy home. The everyday life of servants and gentry is clearly shown.
Slow read initially but once started I couldn't put it down. Author keep me interested in story. I really was surprised by the ending. This book had it all. I enjoyed the history without feeling bogged down with facts. There was a hint of romance. The best part was the mystery. Would definitely read this author again.
Judy B. (Marysville, OH)
Authentic historical atmosphere
I think this book is outstanding for the historical detail that takes you right into the midst of unromanticized 17th century England and for its plucky main character, Lucy Campion, who works from within the limits of her lowly servant status to solve the mystery of the savage murder of her friend and fellow servant Bessie.
Norman G. (Washougal, WA)
The author writes in a direct simple style that creates a realistic sense of what it was like, for example, to be quarantined and facing the high probability of death in plague-ridden London, as Lucy was, or to be a languishing, falsely accused prisoner in the horrors of Newgate prison, as Lucy's brother was. Even though I'm not a big reader of historical mysteries, I look forward to the next book in this new series.
At no time did I find myself let down by the plot or the characters as the novel moved along at a fast pace. The historical part of the novel gave an accurate picture into the life and views of the time and the people mainly voiced the prevailing sentiments of the era. The author gave enough hints as to who was committing the murders but kept it in doubt with several red herrings. For a first novel, though, I felt there were two weaknesses that kept it from being really excellent. The main character, Lucy, at times seemed to be exceptionally naive for someone so intelligent who understood the limitations of the times. She acted out of character at intervals. Also, while the ending tied up the story nicely, the last two pages seemed to be written only so the reader knew there would be other novels coming. It gave an artificial aspect that left me wondering if Susanna Calkins could not have invested more time in making it less obvious about her intentions. Lucy and Adam were so strongly romantic that the rational speeches by both felt out of place in the final pages.
Lesley F. (San Diego, CA)
A Murder at Rosamund's Gate: History and Mystery
I am in novel heaven... seventeenth century England and a chambermaid with the good sense of a Kinsey Milhone and none of the modern conveniences. The historical references are accurate (a novelist has the privilege and the obligation to create details for the sake of the story) and the mystery is great fun - a murder to solve. There is more than a hint of a new series here and as Kinsey reaches the end of her alphabet, I am looking forward to getting involved in Lucy Campion's adventures at the magistrate's house in London. Murder/mysteries are my candy and my summer vacations. This is a winner.
Amy H. (Benbrook, TX)
Just your average historical mystery...
17-18th century England is one of my favorite eras in history, so I enjoy reading books from that time period from many different genres (mystery, fiction, biography, etc.). Needless to say, I was very excited to get a chance to review this mystery. My excitement was short lived, however, as the first part of this novel was very slow. The character development seemed deliberate, like the author was following a formula, instead of allowing development in their own time within the story.
Gail L. (Maitland, FL)
A Murder at Rosamund's Gate
The mystery was predictable and contrite. When I got to the end of this novel, I walked away feeling like a chore had been accomplished rather than a fantasy fulfilled.
For a first novel, the book was well researched; however, the plot was slow and I had to push myself to read from beginning to end. The characters were not developed enough to my liking. The author has potential and the way she ended the book, it seems there will be more to come regarding Lucy. Will not be recommending this book to others but will want to read her next book to compare them.
I found this book tedious and almost decided to put it aside but the author's knowledge of setting was very instructive telling all the unusual and unsanitary conditions of the 17th century, upper class household customs and conditions leading to the days of the plague so I stuck with it. My main problem was with slow plot development and characters who did not create interest. There was plenty of opportunity for tension but, somehow, it never developed for me. I would not recommend it to my reading groups but feel the author's potential is good. A tighter and faster moving plot would have helped.