Bella lives a charmed life in Victorian London until her mother dies and her father’s drinking leaves her to become a servant. She is living a pretty quiet life but always dreaming of more until one day she witnesses a deadly accident. The woman who is killed was heading to the palace for a role working in the royal household. Bella decides to take her referral letter and assume the life that Helen Barton was destined for. She thrives in the queen’s kitchen enjoying the art of cooking and the gossip within the queen’s household until Helen’s real brother comes to blackmail her. She ends up in France with the queen’s travelling retinue and relishes the opportunity until someone who ate her food dies and she is investigated for the crime and just may lose it all.
I enjoyed Bella’s story although I think the blurb makes you think it’s going to be a little more murder mystery – the poisoning case doesn’t happen til the last quarter of the book. (And the culprit was pretty obvious.) The historical fiction aspects were well done and while perhaps some aspects of her trajectory were unbelievable, I enjoyed this unique view of the queen’s latter days.
Thanks to Lake Union Publishing via Netgalley for gifted access. Apologies for how long it took me to get around to reading. All opinions above are my own.
What’s the biggest risk you’ve taken in your life?