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A Breach of Promise (William Monk Novels) Hardcover – September 14, 1998


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Product Details

  • Series: William Monk Novels
  • Hardcover: 374 pages
  • Publisher: Fawcett; 1st edition (September 14, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0449908496
  • ISBN-13: 978-0449908495
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #578,353 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The promises that are breached, broken, and never born in Anne Perry's rich and resonant new William Monk mystery all have to do with the roles and positions of women in Victorian society. At the center of the book is a rousing courtroom drama, as young Zillah Lambert--daughter of a wealthy, well-meaning northern businessman and his socially ambitious wife--sues an immensely gifted architect, Killian Melville. Melville, Zillah argues, failed to live up to his promise of marriage and thereby ruined her chances of making any sort of acceptable match. Private detective Monk is brought into the case by lawyer Oliver Rathbone when his client (Melville), facing financial and social ruin, still refuses to offer any reason for his dastardly conduct.

Monk's attentions are occupied elsewhere, too. Hester Latterly, the courageous nurse who worked with Florence Nightingale in the Crimean War, and whose favors Monk and Rathbone both desire, is looking after a British officer, Gabriel Sheldon, who was badly wounded and disfigured in India. Gabriel's wife, Perdita, is having trouble adjusting to her husband's broken body and spirit. "It was not Perdita's fault that she was confused and frightened," Monk muses. "She had been protected all her short life. She had not chosen to be, it was her assigned role." Monk has also promised a housemaid in the Sheldons' service that he will look for her two little nieces--deaf and deformed from birth--who were abandoned by their mother almost 20 years before. As the cases tangle and combine (perhaps a tad too coincidentally for some tastes, but, then again, real life is full of coincidences), Perry manages to show us the many ways in which women were made to pay for their place in a male-dominated society. She also delivers a touching and surprisingly suspenseful story. Other Monk books in paperback: The Silent Cry, Cain His Brother, Defend and Betray, Weighed in the Balance. --Dick Adler

From Publishers Weekly

In this latest William Monk tale (after The Silent Cry, 1997), Perry offers her strongest indictment yet of Victorian England and a society "where beauty and reputation were the yardsticks of worth." Barrister Sir Oliver Rathbone defends Killian Melville, a talented young architect, in a breach of promise suit brought by Melville's benefactor, Barton Lambert, in support of Lambert's daughter Zillah. Melville insists that Mrs. Lambert, desperate that her daughter marry, misconstrued his friendship with the young woman. Meanwhile, Hester Latterly is hired to nurse Gabriel Athol, who was tragically injured in India and whose wife, Perdita, finds her desire to understand his suffering thwarted by a brother-in-law who insists that women be shielded from the realities of war and violence. Hester befriends Perdita's maid, Martha, who is desperate to find her two deaf, disfigured nieces who vanished years ago when her brother died and his wife disappeared. Rathbone hires Monk to investigate Melville and the Lamberts; Hester implores Monk to help Martha. The first case ends tragically before the startling truth behind Melville's refusal to marry is revealed; the second project ends on a happier note. Perry does a masterful job depicting Victorian hypocrisy regarding women. But she draws her stories together with an incredible connection whose dissonance spoils an otherwise exceptional novel. Mystery Guild main selection.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Anne Perry is the bestselling author of two acclaimed series set in Victorian England: the William Monk novels, including Dark Assassin and The Shifting Tide, and the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt novels, including The Cater Street Hangman, Calandar Square, Buckingham Palace Gardens and Long Spoon Lane. She is also the author of the World War I novels No Graves As Yet, Shoulder the Sky, Angels in the Gloom, At Some Disputed Barricade, and We Shall Not Sleep, as well as six holiday novels, most recently A Christmas Grace. Anne Perry lives in Scotland.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By L. E. Livingston on September 2, 2007
Format: Paperback
NOTE: This is not a new book. It was published in the U.S. as "Breach of Promise." Dedicated Anne Perry fans will already have read it. Otherwise it's fine.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By P.J. George on November 4, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Anne Perry has done it again! "A Breach of Promise" is the best yet in the William Monk/Hester Latterly/Oliver Rathbone series, and Perry succeeds brilliantly in portraying the fog-bound hypocrisy of Victorian England. The atmosphere of cold, foggy and drizzly Victorian London can be almost be felt and the attitudes and behaviour of the English aristocracy of the time are harshly, yet compassionately, portrayed. And if that is a contradiction in terms, read the book to find out why.
The plot itself is well thought-out although the denouement fell curiously flat, almost as though Perry ran out of stamina. And the relationship between William Monk and Hester Latterly is growing by leaps and bounds - I look forward to see how Perry will develop this theme in her subsequent books. I feel that Monk and Latterly are a more hard-edged couple than Perry's other creation of Thomas and Charlotte Pitt - although both William Monk and Thomas Pitt are examples of people from outside the charmed social circles who carry considerable loads of cynicism and angst.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 17, 1998
Format: Hardcover
_A Breach of Promise_ is like a breath of fresh air in the William Monk series by Anne Perry. I have read all of her Victorian mysteries and had been rather disapponted by _The Silent Cry_, the immediately preceding book, thinking that perhaps Miss Perry had mined out her mid-Victorian setting and that we would not have any more excellent books such as the first book in the series, _The Face of a Stranger_. I was totally wrong. This book is fantastic. The premise of a breach of promise suit didn't seem to be all that interesting before I opened the book, but Perry captures the emotions and the fears and the lives of the characters wonderfully, including some secondary characters, a Lt. Gabriel Sheldon and his wife, Perdita, who have their own problems which play against the main plot in a masterful manner. I recommend this book to any of Perry's fans and say that you won't be disappointed.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 11, 1998
Format: Hardcover
So far, I think this is her best yet. It's plot centers on, as the title suggests, a breach of promise suit. Killian Meville, posibly the most brilliant architect of his time, has broken off a marriage with Zillah Lambert, a girl that nobody can find anything wrong with- Melville say he simply can't marry her. Sir Oliver Rathbone agrees to defend Melville. He hires William Monk to investigate. Assisted by nurse Hester Latterly, their investigation is cut short by a shocking murder- or suicide. It reveals a shocking fact about Melville that almost no one knew and opens up a whole new problem. I'm not telling any secrets, but to all Anne Perry addicts, there is a major event in the end of the book.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By bookjunkiereviews on August 31, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Most of Anne Perry's works dwell on the darker aspects of human nature, notably various sexual perversions hidden under the veneer of upper-class and middle-class Victorian society. Some of her recent works especially in the Inspector Monk series have also dwelt upon the status of Victorian women of good families, notably the tremendous barriers imposed to them professionally in medicine. More recently, her books have touched more explicitly upon political issues of the day.
This is a slightly unusual Inspector Monk book, in that there is no sexual perversion hidden as the motive for a murder. I shouldn't give away too much of the plot for those who have not read this book. The story is about the fragility of reputation, the impossibly limited choices available to young women in that society, and the ways in which friendships can be misconstrued.
One of the most effective scenes for me was where Sir Oliver Rathbone (the defense lawyer) is neatly boxed in by a match-making mother, and the way in which he understands and reads the minds of the women around him. This is one of the reasons I have kept this particular book, above all the others.
The story-line is at least initially not as dark as the typical Anne Perry (warning: her works are not for the squeamish), with the first half of the book being about a trial for breach of promise brought against one of the most brilliant young architects who refuses to marry a young woman. Why he refuses to marry her is not made clear until the middle of the story, and it certainly comes as a shock to all concerned. The second half of the book is much darker, in that the murder is driven by the personal greeds of one of the principal characters in the trial.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Lois A. Quarles on March 7, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book "grabbed" me from the first page. I honestly felt as though I was there with the main characters, participating in their experiences and world. As I'd suspected, my INITIAL guess regarding the reason pretty young Zilla's supposed fiance "backed out" was totally "off-base," and made complete sense when it was ultimately divulged. The writing style is lively, EVERYTHING falls neatly into place, and thus I UNHESITATINGLY classify this novel as a COMPELLING "read." I had trouble putting it down once I got "into" it, and found the details related to life and customs during that period to be enlightening, particularly since I'm not a "well-versed" history buff, per se. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading works of general fiction which are neither exceedingly lengthy nor go into painstaking detail.
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