This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Reviewed by Debs Carr
We know by the title that someone is the second-last woman to be hanged in England, and by the second page the reader knows that it’s Harriet Wallis who kills her husband Cecil just as the newly crowned Queen Elizabeth steps onto the balcony at Buckingham Palace on the day of her coronation. What we don’t know is why? Why does Harriet kill Cecil, and why does she do it in front of the people who have gathered at her sumptuous London home to watch the coronation on her brand new television?
Harriet lives a conventional life with a beautiful home, husband, two children and seemingly to the outside world, everything she could wish for. The day her new nanny, Jean arrives to be interviewed, the police arrive at the house to interview Cecil and it’s then that the story begins to unfold and we slowly discover what Cecil has been up to and who the man is that Harriet secretly meets up with and is so desperate to keep hidden. We also learn more about Cecil and his business affairs and the background and reasoning behind the new nanny’s intention to work in this particular household. Each of the main characters are hiding something behind their sombre, unemotional exteriors, and as their histories become revealed and the past reignites emotions and horrors that they’ve tried hard to suppress everyone’s lives change dramatically.
This book is beautifully written, from the language used to the brilliantly brought-to-life sights and sounds of the era. I was intrigued by the title and the first two pages, and enjoyed discovering everyone’s secrets and Harriet’s reasoning behind her murdering of Cecil and although I didn’t find Harriet very likeable as a main character, I was transfixed by her story.
Maggie Joel’s Website