I’ve really enjoyed the first two novels in the Talbot Saga – House in the Hollow and Tall Chimneys – and so I knew I was in for a treat with this new addition to the tale based on the Talbot family. This time, the house itself features only in the background; most of the novel is set in the world of London’s Nineteenth Century Ton, the world of balls, and advantageous matches, and where appearances matter almost more than anything else. Into this world comes, Georgina, the cloistered Lady in the Veil.
Georgina, for reasons which slowly become apparent, wishes to remain obscure and hidden to the wider world, choosing to wear a veil at all times. Once she is thrust into London society, her defences are stripped away and she is forced to confront her past and to find a way to face the world. She is at the mercy of George Talbot’s wife, Lady Jane, and some of the most vividly-drawn moments come when the bitter Lady Jane wishes to punish all those around her for nameless crimes and imagined injustices.
One of my favourite characters is Lady Jane’s long-suffering companion, Miss Trimble. As with the likes of Jane Fairfax in Emma, you can’t help but hope that she has the strength to stand up to her domineering ‘friend’ and escape from her sphere of power. When Georgina arrives, it is Miss Trimble who befriends the young woman, instantly becoming a sympathetic character for the reader to support.
This is very much a story about appearances and choices. Cresswell writes so well that it’s very easy to step into the Nineteenth Century’s concerns (her description of the first ball Georgina attends is brilliant), but it’s also a very familiar world with very familiar concerns for our own age. Highly recommended.
What secrets hide beneath the veil? When her mother departs for a tour of the continent, Georgina is sent from the rural backwaters to stay with her cousin, George Talbot, in London. The 1835 season is at its height, but Georgina is determined to attend neither balls nor plays, and to eschew Society. She hides her face beneath an impenetrable veil. Her extraordinary appearance only sets off gossip and speculation as to her identity. Who is the mysterious lady beneath the veil? The Lady in the Veil continues the story of the Talbots in The House in the Hollow but stands equally well alone.
Here are the UK and US purchase links: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B096Y9S938/ref=sr_1_12?dchild=1&keywords=allie+cresswell&qid=1623315549&sr=8-12