I'm a sucker for well researched historical fiction. I love learning about history through the lives and perils of the characters in fiction. One of the reasons I enjoy this is because many times you are learning about history not because it is the intent of the book, but because the author has done such a good job researching the setting of his/her story that the history flows through the story and becomes part of it. In A Pearl For My Mistress by Annabel Fielding, history flows through the story and becomes a very important aspect of the story.
When I first started reading A Pearl For My Mistress, I thought it would just be a love story between a maid and the lady she serves, but the more I read it, the more I realized this was just one aspect of the story. Yes, Lady Lucy falls for her maid Hester, which at the time (1930's England) is quite risqué. She could be sent to an asylum if it is discovered. However, the real meat of the story at least for me, is more about the politics of the time and the fact that Lady Lucy over the course of the story becomes basically a spy for the Germans, which causes the couple to question their relationship.
Lady Lucy is not necessarily a likable character, she comes from a controlling rich family and her idea of rebelling is to become involved with the British Fascist. Her political views are also questionable, specially when the woman she claims to love would be deeply affected if her views were put to practice. Proving that while she may be in love with a maid, she has no understanding on what the life of the poor, and immigrants is like. It is clear that she does love Hester, it is just a matter of what does she love more, Hester or power.
I would say, A Pearl For My Mistress is beautifully written. There are parts of the story that are poetic, and the characters are well developed. Because of this the stories pace might be slower than some people would like, but I think this has to do with the topics being covered. In order to do justice to the politics of the time, the romance, the history, you have to take your time. If the story was rushed, it would not be as lovely as it is.
I enjoyed the stories intrigue and how well researched this book was. I think that any lover of historical fiction, any lover of history would enjoy this story. You can read it as an ebook here.
*I received this book from NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.*