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Thursday, June 5, 2014

A Sense of Entitlement by Anna Loan Wilsey



Set in the 1890s we have a distinct sense of upstairs downstairs. Even in America! The rich and snobbish can be extremely snobbish and these so called aristocrats of New York society are very much so.

Harriet is a travelling secretary and also a private detective who has previously solved a murder single handedly. She likes to keep that part of her life private and continue to work as a secretary because she knows that no one will employ her if they know of what they would consider an unsavoury past. 
Harriet comes to work for a wealthy Rhode Island family and whose matriarch has such a busy social life that Harriet does not have any free time at all. For Harriet the slights and annoyances of the job are par for the course - she just wants to get ahead and also find the time to enjoy a relationship with her boyfriend.

All is not well though on this social circuit - there is tension amongst workers because there is a trade unionist in the area who is inciting workers to rebel against their employers. This is especially so for domestic workers who seem to have no rules or regulations on their working hours, time off or conditions of work. The movement is just beginning but seems to have some kind of support from within the big houses.  When a very rich man is found murdered clutching a trade union  pamphlet in his hands all signs seem to pinpoint to the trade unionist as being the murderer.

Hattie begins to see that this is not the case but a red herring to throw everyone off the real culprit whose reason for murder is much more scandalous.

This book was different in that our Hattie was courageous, outspoken and determined to speak up when necessary - all characteristics not admired in a woman of this period. She did not care for what was public opinion but only felt that what she did was right. Historical detail was descriptively dealt with in this story as well. 

Thanks to Kensington Books and Netgalley for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

2 comments:

Sarah Johnson said...

Thanks for this review. Gilded Age Rhode Island is a setting that interests me - I've been to Newport a couple of times, and the mansions there are seriously impressive!

mel u said...

Edith Wharton 's Age of Innocence is a great work about American aristocrats of this period