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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 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.
Mary Wollstonecraft needs to earn her living, so she accepts a post as a governess in Mitchelstown Castle with the infamous Kingsborough family. On the crossing from Holyhead to Dublin she witnesses the apparent murder of an Irish man named Sean Toomey, who was a sailor on her ship, but not until he thrust a packet in her hand to deliver to a man named Liam:
"The ship lurched and threw her against him; he gripped her shoulders and helped her to grasp the ladder. She squinted down at the letter. FOR LIAM. 'Liam who? Where does he live?' Mary called to the fellow, who had already turned away.
'I'm only going to Mitchelstown, I said. Mitchelstown,' she shouted over the screech of sails, the howl of wind, the hallooing seamen. In tiny letters at the bottom of the letter she saw it was to be delivered to a Liam in Mitchelstown-the reason, perhaps, for his pursuing the conversation. 'Wait! You must find someone else to deliver it,'
Holding on to her hat with one hand, the rigging with the other, she reeled about to find him. He was nowhere in sight. She was sorry now that she had told him her destination. If she could not find a Liam, so be it. She thrust the letter into the pocket of her greatcoat."
MIDNIGHT FIRES just reels with mystery and intrigue, from the first page.Read more ›
Wright draws Mary's fictionalized character with enthusiasm and verve. The plot has more twists and turns than a rollercoaster with just as much excitement. Wright convincingly portrays the historical background with sensory detail. If you love historical mysteries, you will enjoy this book!
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 8 months ago by Roberta M Roy
Midnight Fires (Mary Wollstonecraft)I have just finished Midnight Fires, and I found it a fascinating re-creation of what few people realize (even Americans of Irish descent) was a... Read morePublished on August 22, 2012 by Peter H. Green
First Line: The crossing from Holyhead to Dublin had been relatively calm, but just as the Irish coast came into view, a contrary wind blew up. Read morePublished on August 9, 2011 by Cathy G. Cole