What secrets hide beneath the veil? When her mother departs for a tour of the continent, Georgina is sent from the rural backwaters to stay with her cousin, George Talbot, in London. The 1835 season is at its height, but Georgina is determined to attend neither balls nor plays, and to eschew Society. She hides her face beneath an impenetrable veil. Her extraordinary appearance only sets off gossip and speculation as to her identity. Who is the mysterious lady beneath the veil?
Having enjoyed The House in the Hollow I was looking forward to reading this next book in the Talbot saga but in some ways, it might be better to read as a stand alone novel, increasing the mystery of Georgina’s veil. Why has she been hidden away for all her 24 years and yet now is encouraged to face the world? Despite her fear of revelation, she has inner strength and she soon gains the friendship and loyalty of the downtrodden Miss Trimble as well as her kindly uncle, George Talbot. George’s unpleasant second wife Lady Jane is determined to expose Georgina’s secret, even though she is mistaken in her beliefs.
The book takes us to the balls and entertainment of the London season, where we meet the delightfully scandalous Lady Virginia as well as an unhappy couple, Lord Pokenham and Lady Gertrude about to be married off whether they like it or not. Georgina is forced to reveal her face, discovering that people approach her in a very different manner.
In contrast, we visit the busy scene at Surrey Docks where George’s new ship is being built by Georgina’s childhood friend, Arthur Harlish and observe the miserable surroundings of Rotherhithe where he lodges with the incorrigible Mrs Quince. Meeting her Dickensian friends who like to share play readings adds great humour to the story.
When George Talbot is called away, Lady Jane makes Georgina’s life unbearable. She wonders what has happened to the mysterious Amory Balfour who once rescued her but then her cousin Robert Talbot arrives. Will he give her the freedom and happiness she yearns for? There is a complex denouement and a satisfying outcome for all the fascinating characters we have met.
The Lady in the Veil follows on from The House in the Hollow, but stands just as well alone.
The Lady in the Veil is a new release at Amazon UK
My review of The House in the Hollow
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