by Debs Carr
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
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.
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.