After this moment of relative animation, Lady Thornleigh sat back in her chair again, watching Harriet's continuing surprise with real pleasure. She looked away again to examine the middle distance of the golden air.My second favorite character is the wonderfully named Claver Wicksteed, the Thornleighs' steward, who 'was prettily made, like a flashy price of furniture for my lady's chamber, but Crowther doubted the craftsmanship,' and who seems to have an unnatural hold over young, alcoholic HughThornleigh.
'It is remarkable how little some people know about what is going on in their own house.' A hand lifted to her face and she bit her full lower lip a second, pulling on one dark ringlet. 'And it is not even a very big house.'
The other story is set in London, where a widower who calls himself Alexander Adams runs a music shop and cares for his young son and daughter with the help of his friends. The two stories eventually intersect (not a spoiler...you can tell that they will, long before they do) and the ending is very dramatic in its loopy way.
One of the things I liked best about this book is that Robertson brings in late 18th-century history, science culture, social norms, etc. etc. without getting bogged down in them, and doesn't try (I think this was deliberate) to be overly-authentic. The story isn't silly (terrible things happen), but her characters do and say things that they wouldn't (was the f-word even around in colonial times? who knew!), and that adds a freshness and dry humor to her writing that I found very appealing. (Faux Jane Austen can sometimes be very grating.) As I was reading Instruments of Darkness, I was hoping that Imogen Robertston had written or was writing a sequel, and I found out (thanks, Annie!) that there are actually two more books that will hopefully make their way here soon.
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