Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Point of Honour by Madeline Robins

Title: Point of Honour

Author: Madeline Robins

Genre: Mystery

Summary: Sarah Tolerance is hired to find a fan so that a promise made to dying mother could be heeded.

The Take-Away: I'm a fan of historical literature, whether written by a contemporary author or a contemporary of the time period. I was predisposed to enjoy this particular novel. It did however, take an unusual subject and add a new twist to it.

Sarah represents the many women forced into prostitution because a man took advantage of them. Except Sarah went willingly and wasn't forced into prostitution. Instead she ran away with her Catholic lover; she was Protestant and the requirements of the respective Churches were never overcome.

After the death of her lover, Sarah returns to England and rents a cottage from her aunt, who operates a bordello. Rather than earning her living by becoming part of her aunt's business (either as one of the girls or a bookkeeper), Sarah becomes an agent of inquiry. Because she used to be a member of gentry, she knows the proper social niceties, but is able to visit the seedy side of town when her investigations take her there.

The introduction of Sarah's personal history is awkward. I thought that this title was the second in the series, when in fact it is the first. The bulk of what I've explained was found in the jacket flap, not in the book itself. What was in the book was vague and relayed through half dreams or memories. Relying on the jacket to explain a basic premise of the book is lazy. Outside of that, the writing is good. I like Sarah's persistence and ethics. She faced one situation that illustrated her commitment to justice that surprised me greatly. It was an unusual twist.

Recommendation: Read it. The language isn't as inaccessible as Jane Austen or Wilkie Collins but reminiscent of each.

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