A Sunday Times bestseller!
"Highly atmospheric and tense."--Richard Osman, New YorkTimes bestselling author of The Thursday Murder Club
Simmering with slow-burning menace, Mrs. England is a portrait of an Edwardian marriage, an enthralling tale of men and women, power and control, courage, truth and the very darkest deception.
West Yorkshire, 1904. When recently graduated Ruby May takes a nanny position looking after the children of Charles and Lilian England, a wealthy couple from a powerful dynasty of mill owners, she hopes it will be the fresh start she needs. But as she adapts to life at the isolated Hardcastle House, it becomes clear something is not quite right about the beautiful, mysterious Mrs. England.
Distant and withdrawn, Lilian shows little interest in her children or charming husband and is far from the angel of the house Ruby was expecting.
As the warm, vivacious Charles welcomes Ruby into the family, a series of strange events forces her to question everything she thought she knew. Ostracized by the servants and increasingly uneasy, Ruby must face her own demons in order to prevent history from repeating itself. After all, there's no such thing as the perfect family—she should know.
This captivating new feminist novel from Sunday Times bestselling author Stacey Halls is her third work of fiction and proves her one of the most exciting and compelling new storytellers of our time.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Stacey Halls’ gothic historical mystery is complex and utterly bewitching. It’s 1904 when nurse Ruby May accepts a position caring for the children of wealthy mill owners Charles and Lilian England. But while working at the family’s secluded mansion nestled in the English countryside, Ruby slowly realizes that not everything about this picture-perfect family is what it seems. We were mesmerized by this twisty, beguiling story of a family trapped by their own dark secrets. Ruby is a fiercely protective heroine whose strength and mental prowess are the only things safeguarding these young children from their family’s dark mysteries. Halls kept us truly riveted as Ruby wrestles with her own heartbreaking family history, heightening her awareness of the Englands’ odd dysfunctions. Mrs. England is a spellbinding tale that masterfully explores one household’s all-too-delicate family balance.
Familiar tropes dampen the chilling effect of Halls's promising excursion (after The Foundling) into the haunting and harrowing halls of domestic traumas set in the Yorkshire moors of Edwardian England. Newly graduated from the prestigious Norland Institute for the Training of Ladies as Children's Nurses, Ruby May turns down an offer to move to Chicago for a job in 1904 and instead tends to the four children of Charles and Lilian England, wealthy cotton mill owners, at the isolated Hardcastle House. Ruby instantly surmises that "something's not right" with the innocuously charming father and the enigmatic, seemingly addled mother who occasionally sleepwalks. Lost letters, an accusatory message smeared on a bathroom mirror, locked doors, and a nearly fatal scare involving a gaslight shroud bigger secrets. Flashbacks detail Ruby's disquieting childhood, and the treacherous landscape of raging rivers, craggy hillsides, and deep, dark woods create an eerie atmosphere and add to the heart-stopping conclusion. The sort of ordeals Ruby faces as the beleaguered nanny have been seen before, but Halls does a nice job highlighting the imbalance of power determined by gender and class, and the deceit that follows psychological manipulation of daughters, mothers, and wives. Astute readers may suss out the plot early on, but it still offers a beguiling, leisurely diversion.