West Yorkshire, 1904. When newly graduated nurse Ruby May takes a position looking after the children of Charles and Lilian England, a wealthy couple from a powerful dynasty of mill owners, she hopes it will be the fresh start she needs. But as she adapts to life at the isolated Hardcastle House, it becomes clear there’s something not quite right about the beautiful, mysterious Mrs England.
Distant and withdrawn, Lilian shows little interest in her children or charming husband, and is far from the ‘angel of the house’ Ruby was expecting. As the warm, vivacious Charles welcomes Ruby into the family, a series of strange events forces her to question everything she thought she knew. Ostracised by the servants and feeling increasingly uneasy, Ruby must face her demons in order to prevent history from repeating itself. After all, there’s no such thing as the perfect family – and she should know.
When children’s nurse Ruby May is assigned to a new family in Yorkshire, she leaves behind all she has ever known for the dark, desolate moors, and Highmoore House. It is far removed from the liveliness of London. But this is her new home.
Here she finds the England’s. The husband Charles, open, warm, welcoming; the wife, Lillian, silent, reserved, cold; and their four children. Ruby cares for her charges and tries to unravel the dynamic of the house, but the staff are aloof and the mistress of the house proves to be more and more mystifying. Why is she locked in her room at night? Why does she seem so reluctant to spend time with her children? What is she hiding?
There are dark secrets in this family, just as there are dark secrets in Ruby’s. And all secrets must out in the end.
I’m a big fan of Stacey Halls. I loved The Familiars and The Foundling so I was very excited to dive into her new book. Mrs England is atmospheric, poignant and compelling, exploring mental health, toxic relationships, gaslighting and the power our pasts have over our futures. With elements of mystery and menace, this book is beautifully written and so powerful in its emotional scope.
I adored the evocative descriptions of the Yorkshire moors, so isolated and broody. I loved the secrets, darker and darker, as they slip from the pages, and the brilliant, complex characters you can’t take your eyes off of. Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous.
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About the Author
Stacey Halls was born in Lancashire and worked as a journalist before her debut The Familiars was published in 2019. The Familiars was the bestselling debut hardback novel of that year, won a Betty Trask Award and was shortlisted for the British Book Awards’ Debut Book of the Year. The Foundling, her second novel, was also a Sunday Times top ten bestseller. Mrs England is her third novel.
With thanks to Eleanor and Zaffre for my gifted ARC, which I received in exchange for an honest review!