London, 1936. Inside the spectacular Grand Ballroom of the exclusive Buckingham Hotel the rich and powerful, politicians, film stars, even royalty, rub shoulders with Raymond de Guise and his troupe of talented dancers from all around the world, who must enchant them, captivate them, and sweep away their cares.
Accustomed to waltzing with the highest of society, Raymond knows a secret from his past could threaten all he holds dear.
Nancy Nettleton, new chambermaid at the Buckingham, finds hotel life a struggle after leaving her small hometown. She dreams of joining the dancers on the ballroom floor as she watches, unseen, from behind plush curtains and hidden doorways. She soon discovers everyone at the Buckingham – guests and staff alike – has something to hide…
The storm clouds of war are gathering, and beneath the glitz and glamour of the ballroom lurks an irresistible world of scandal and secrets.
A delicious, detailed, dance orientated novel, which unfolds against a background of class division, an unprecedented threat to the monarchy and a cosmopolitan hotel whose outward glamour hides a web of secrets.
The characters are believable and vividly depicted, they draw the reader into the story and engender empathy and dislike according to their behaviour. The setting epitomises polite London society in the 1930s. The ballroom’s importance, as a place to see and be seen, is a core theme of this story and is the focal point for the action and dialogue between the main characters.
Like ‘Upstairs Downstairs ‘ and ‘Downtown Abbey’, society’s class division is marked. The ‘lower class’ characters’lives are difficult and provide a thought-provoking reminder of poverty and hardship.
The political unrest in Europe and England make living life the limit a given, for those able to do so. When secrets unfold and people’s livelihood and reputations are in danger, the true heroes and villains emerge.
I received a copy of this book from Zaffre via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is a well-written thriller, with authentic courtroom drama and a nightmare scenario for the family of characters.
It’s a story of two sisters and how their lives are irrevocably changed by a tragic event. Accident or intentional act is what the jury has to decide, but the effect on the two sisters their spouses’, parents and children is devastating.
For me, this was more family drama than thriller, although there is a mystery to solve. I guessed the outcome before the end, but there are plenty of twists and lies to explore. The ending makes the story so poignant, but ties up all the clues in a satisfactory way.
I received a copy of this from Penguin UK – Michael Joseph via NetGalley in return for an honest review.