Wednesday, 22 June 2011

HISTORICAL CRIME FICTION REVIEW: The Ghost of Lily Painter - Caitlin Davies

Release Date: 02/06/11


The first time Annie Sweet sees 43 Stanley Road, the house is so perfect she almost feels as though it has chosen her. She longs to move in, but with her husband seeming more distant, and her daughter wrapped up in her friends and new school, Annie is left alone to mull over the past. Soon she becomes consumed by the house and everyone who has lived there before her, especially a young chorus girl called Lily Painter, a rising star of the music hall whose sparkling performances were the talk of the town. As Annie delves further into Lily's past she begins to unravel a dark episode from Edwardian London, that of two notorious baby farmers, who lured young unmarried mothers with the promise of a better life for their babies. Until Annie solves the mystery at the heart of the scandal, the ghost of Lily Painter will never be able to rest. Based on a real period from London's rich history, Caitlin Davies skillfully blends fact and fiction to bring to life part of our sinister past. Spanning an entire century, from the journals of an Edwardian police inspector to a doomed wartime love affair, The Ghost of Lily Painter is an engrossing and poignant novel from a hugely talented writer.


If you love a story of investigation and discovery then this could be a title that you’ll love. Whilst many may feel that the title has a supernatural element to it, it is more a literal haunting of the modern cast member than a genuine haunting, where she becomes intrigued as well as fascinated with the occupants of her house from the 1901 census in particular the daughter, Lily Painter.

Its cleverly devised and whilst there is a trend to have a title set in more than one time period with two lead protagonists, it’s a title that works extremely well to help give the title a great sense of pace as well as allowing the reader to get the full flavour of the Edwardian period. All in the title is clever, haunting in its own respect and when the threads all collide it’s a title that will stay with you long after the final page is turned. Wonderful.

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