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Midnight Fires: A Mystery with Mary Wollstonecraft Paperback – April 10, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
"An entertainingly seamy portrayal of provincial aristocrats and the day-to-day messiness of 18th century life. Add a feisty, engaging heroine and the result is an atmospheric and absorbing whodunit." --Susanne Alleyn, author of Cavalier of the Apocalypse
"Despite the constraints of class, culture, stays and skirts, Wright's fictionalized Mary Wollstonecraft is thoroughly engaging on her voyage of detection and self-discovery." -- Kate Flora, author of Stalking Death<br /><br />"An entertainingly seamy portrayal of provincial aristocrats and the day-to-day messiness of 18th century life. Add a feisty, engaging heroine and the result is an atmospheric and absorbing whodunit." --Susanne Alleyn, author of Cavalier of the Apocalypse
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Top Customer Reviews
Hands down the best part of this book is Mary. Mary's a gem of a character. Normally a heroine in a historical fiction novel who is ahead of her time in thought and action would be unrealistic, but Mary really was that kind of woman! In fact, her first book, Thoughts on the Education of Daughters, makes an appearance in this story.
Smarting from a failed love affair, indebted and responsible for her sisters' welfare, Mary leaves London behind and takes a one-year assignment as a governess to a noble Irish family, though she has serious reservations:
"Governesses, she had heard, constituted one of the largest classes of insane women in asylums. The thought was not at all comforting."
But desperate times call for desperate measures, and this gig as a governess is temporary. Mary has plans, she's going to be being an authoress, and the Kingsboroughs provide plenty of inspiration:
"I haven't penned a novel," she said. "But I do have one in mind."
And she had, yes. She had begun a novel in her head. One of the characters would be a lady who loved her dogs more than her daughters. A lord who hunted, womanized, pitchcapped unhappy peasants, and drank his way through life...
She found it promising. She imagined the faces of her dumbfounded employers as they read her first novel.Read more ›
Mary Wollstonecraft is on her way to Mitchelstown Castle in County Cork to be a governess to Lord Kingsborough's daughters. To her, it is humiliating-- a fate most devoutly not to be desired. But with debts to pay and a pack of siblings who constantly turn to her as a source of money, she has no other option. She wants to work out the year she contracted for, to avoid having anyone find out just how much she lied about her qualifications, and to keep out of castle politics by writing a novel. Mary lives to write.
She doesn't even get off the ship before something happens. A young Irish sailor who'd just given her a letter to deliver to someone falls overboard and drowns. Mary could swear that she caught a glimpse of a knife-wielding man standing by the young Irishman, but with the weather being so foul, she must be mistaken.
Life at Mitchelstown Castle is not easy. The oldest daughter can't stand Mary at first, and the unhappy, self-centered Lady Kingsborough finds the proud and stubborn Mary difficult to deal with. When two more people at the caste die, Mary believes those two deaths tie into the death of the sailor, and she won't rest until she finds justice for all three.
At first I found Mary a bit of a handful myself. She is a very passionate young female who has a tendency to eye all the available young men in her vicinity. She spends so much time on visiting the nearby cottagers as well as on her investigation that I wondered where she found the time to teach those young girls anything, but she manages to get everything done.Read more ›
Mary has given herself two rules to abide by. First she plans to write a novel. Second and foremost she is determined to stay out of the castle political squabbles. However, her resolve vanishes with the deaths of a sailor, the former governess, and an aristocrat. She believes a serial killer is on the loose and investigates seeking the link only to find several people with motives, but none with reasoning to kill the trio.
This is a terrific Georgian mystery with Mary Wollstonecraft starring as an amateur sleuth. Her investigation is clever as it enhances the overall theme of class and gender differences. Mary is the perfect guide for readers to look at the great divides in the late eighteenth century Ireland as she will one day soon write her famous manifesto. Nancy Means Wright provides an excellent historical mystery starring a superb heroine.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
In this extremely well-researched novel on Mary Wollstonecraft (mother of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, author of Frankenstein) the reader can enjoy the insightful, passionate yet... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Roberta M Roy
I read Midnight Fires almost non-stop and found it a remarkable read. Nancy Means Wright's protagonist, Mary, surely is spunky, outspoken, and a woman of remarkable character. Read morePublished on May 15, 2010 by Kathleen Harris
Nancy Means Wright lives in Middlebury, Vermont. She is a teacher of many years, and has authored eight mysteries; seven non-mysteries; short stories; and poems. Read morePublished on May 9, 2010 by Midwest Book Review