In the aftermath of war, Emily Sutton struggles with being a young woman in a world irrevocably changed by conflict. When she refuses to follow the traditional expectations of a job in her father’s antiques business – or marriage – her parents send her for an ‘improving’ stay with her spinster cousin in the quiet Cotswold village of Washbrook. But Emily arrives to find her cousin’s cottage empty and an elderly man brutally attacked by an unknown assailant and realises that even in peacetime, the spectre of death is never far away.
Emily knows of the scandal that rocked the village last winter – the death of John Langton, the rumours of his looted treasure – leaving his older brother, Captain Richard Langton, to face the disgrace. Despite his cool manner, Emily is drawn to Richard, and as they work together to expose the shadows stalking the village, they discover that John’s ghost will not be allowed to rest, with terrifying results…
Steeped in historical detail and authentic characters you could undoubtedly find in post-war Britain, ‘The Antique Dealer’s Daughter’ follows Emily’s endeavours as she forges a life for herself in the rural idyll of the Cotswolds.
World War 2 changed lives and gave women chances and certain emancipation that would have happened much more slowly without the impetus of the war. This story illustrates this and the frustration many women felt when they were expected to return to their post-war roles. The post-war era and life in the rural Cotswolds immerse the reader, but the slow pacing and length of the story sometimes negate the powerful messages both social and political and the depth of the characters.
It’s not an easy read, there is perhaps a little too much historical detail and the characters’ behaviour and attitudes, while realistic makes them hard to understand and empathise. The mystery and the danger the heroine finds herself in underlines the story but only seeing it from Emily’s point of view reduces its impact; always being in her head is often confusing for the reader.
If you are a devotee of historical fiction in the 1940s, this is an absorbing read, but if you are more interested in solving the crimes and mystery, you may find it difficult to discover and keep the clues in your mind. The romance is gentle and rather lovely, entirely in keeping with the period.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.