Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Crimson Rooms by Katherine McMahon

Set in London just after the Great War, Evelyn Gifford is awakened in the middle of the night by a knock at the door.  She finds a beautiful woman holding the hand of a young boy...the spitting image of her brother, James, killed in action.

Meredith tells Evelyn of having met with her father to discuss financial arrangements for the boy but there's been no word, or money, for quite some time.  Before Evelyn knows what is happening both of these strangers are in the family home and tucked up in bed.

This is all going to come as quite a shock to Evelyn's mother who is the type to rely heavily on smelling salts if you get my meaning.  Aunt Prudence finds a fair bit of fault with Meredith's parenting skills, or lack thereof, plenty of disapproving glances ensue.  All of the women in the house wonder what it is exactly Meredith wants from them as there is precious little in the way of money to go around as it is.  Trust is also in short supply.

Not only is Evelyn approaching spinsterhood at just over thirty but has dismayed her mother further by studying Law.  Strong enough to meet the disapproving stares and comments of her fellow male barristers, Evelyn fights for her rights in the courtroom as one of the first females in her field.  There is one man, Nicholas Thorne, who becomes an ally and though she tries to fight her feelings, makes her heart beat a little faster with his dashing appearance.  Together they work on the case of a man charged with murdering his wife while on a picnic.  Her body was found in a shallow grave in the woods, shot through the heart.  The outcome of the trial will mean life or death for Mr Wheeler.

Doesn't this sound like a fantastic storyline?!  Despite being a tad too descriptive at times I was enjoying my time with this book.  Then there was the end bit.  I finished, closed the cover and then proceeded to leave the patio in search of R to have a good moan.  It's not that I wanted my way or the highway for an ending, although I did come up with a very plausible twist which would have satisfied everyone, well  But who am I...just a humble reader.  Will I pick up another Katherine McMahone book?  Sure I will.  But after my disappointment with the way this story ended I really wanted needed a story by someone who I just knew wouldn't let me down.  Head tilted sideways, scanning the titles of my Persephone collection, I found The Priory by Dorothy Whipple.

All is well in my world of reading again.


  1. I think this is one of my favorite reads so far this year, but have to agree I wouldn't have been disappointed with a slightly happier ending. Still, I think she had no choice with the outcome of the trial--the guy was determined not to fight for himself and pretty well had given up. And Nicholas was just a stinker, though he redeemed himself somewhat--I'm kind of glad Evelyn didn't give in. It must be the mood I am in but I am almost happier sometimes when the girl doesn't get the guy but still gets a happy ending. I know that sounds strange, but there you go, it's a phase I seem to be going through! :)

  2. I hate that feeling of dissatisfaction when you finish a good book that could have been even better. I'm glad you have The Priory, though. I read it last year and absolutely loved it. I hope you will, too.

  3. I'm glad you've got something good lined up next - I hate finding something to come after something so good. I didn't actually enjoy Crimson rooms as much as you - I preferred The rose of sebastapol, but I do like McMahon's books - very well researched and interesting.

  4. This sounds very interesting! I've been meaning to read The Rose of Sebastopol for ages...I keep seeing both these books in charity shops and I'm not sure I will like The Crimson Rooms if there is an unsatisfactory ending!
    The Priory is my favourite Persephone Whipple - I know you will love it Darlene!

  5. Sounds interesting but a shame that you were disappointed! thanks for sharing, I have read mixed reviews of this book.


  6. Danielle, Oh the things we could talk about in person!

    makedoandread, The Priory is fantastic isn't it! This morning it was 'Persephone or Peasy?' and the book won.

    verity, There are a couple of her books that I'd still like to read. We have The my library so I will definitely give that one a go at some point.

    booksnob, I've been spoiled by Persephone and other works by early 20th century authors. The bar has most likely been set too high I'm afraid! Loving The Priory already!

    Hannah, It would be a terrific title for discussion at a book club meeting...lots of points of view I'm sure!