01 June 2010

Her Royal Spyness

By Rhys Bowen
Published by the Penguin Group
Berkley Prime Crime mass-market edition / July 2008

If I were twenty-one in 1932, who would I want for a best friend? Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie, daughter of the late Duke of Glen Garry and Rannoch, granddaughter of the least attractive of Queen Victoria's daughters, half-sister to Hamish (present Duke of Glen Garry and Rannoch), thirty-fourth in line to the throne - known to her friends as Georgie.

Times are tough in 1932 and Georgie's brother Hamish (called Binky) has cut off Georgie's allowance. Living in a Scottish castle with Binky and Fig (Binky's snooty spouse), Georgie decides to move to the family house in London and see what she can do to support herself. She's really not prepared for much in the way of employment:

"I, meanwhile, had been shipped off to finishing school in Switzerland, where I was having a spiffing time mixing with the naughty daughters of the rich and famous. We learned passably good French and precious little else except how to give dinner parties, play the piano, and walk with good posture."

Once in London, Georgie soon gets herself reacquainted with some old friends from the finishing school, and they don't always lead her down the respectable path expected of a Lady. Throw in Georgie's various jobs, an attempt at blackmail, a dead body in the bathtub, a much-married mother, and a rather roguish (though handsome) Irish peer, and you've got a delightful novel. And - I almost forgot - the Queen would like Georgie to spy on the married lover of the Prince of Wales.

Overall, Georgie is a smart, witty, enjoyable character in a smart, witty, enjoyable book. I'm looking forward to reading more of this series.

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