- The Lady of the Bog, by Gillian St. Kevern
The Lady of the Bog, by Gillian St. Kevern
One day Florence Skelton is risking her father’s wrath by reading Jane Eyre and befriending Rosemary, the neighbourhood rebel. The next, a woman she doesn’t know is trying to drown her. To escape her would-be murderer, Florence takes a job as secretary companion to an archeologist and his beautiful, distant wife. But excavating Aylesport bog brings ancient—and deadly—secrets to the surface.
Florence can write about heroines, but navigating the bog’s treacherous waters requires courage she doesn't possess. Her only hope of survival is Rosemary—and Rosemary doesn’t even know she’s in trouble. Can Florence find her inner heroine before she becomes part of Aylesport’s chilling history?
The Lady of the Bog is the eleventh instalment of the Read by Candlelight series, gothic standalone novellas featuring an ever growing LGBTQIA+ ensemble cast.
Florence and Rosemary see little on-page time together, but their friendship through letters is just as lovely to witness as any that happen face-to-face. They support and encourage each other through tough times, and have a lovely progression from strangers to friends.
In terms of characters, we see many recurring characters – Dr Goodfellow, Pip and Cross, Julian and Surplis, Scott and Dawson, and Rosemary. For new characters, we're given more than a few, each with interesting backstories – the main character Florence, her employers Mr and Mrs Temple, the historian Mr Vaugham, and the girls of the lepidopterist club; Pat, Jemima, Brick and Jackie.
I have to admit, I've never yet read Jane Eyre, but the way the vicar reacts to it makes me want to read it. The whole puritanical attitude towards women is both hilariously outdated and devastatingly real; a stark reminder of how far we've come, and so well written that we can rejoice at Rosemary's forward thinking and strength. But, at the same time, we can understand and commiserate with Florence's struggle to find her independence.
There is so much about the story I can't say, because it would spoil the twists and turns of the plot, but I can say this – it's well paced, brilliantly plotted, and every little piece of cleverly woven together. I loved the way Florence's father reacted to Pip's reputation, Mr Temple's ideas to give women education and independence – but not too much! – was ridiculous and genius. The handwriting experiment was both ingenius and dangerous, and the concept of the bog lady hit home with this archaeological student, who has always held a soft spot for the brave and courageous Boudica.
I loved every minute of this mystery, with a dash of romance, lots of Julian and Pip on page, and a whole host of new characters to enjoy and look forward to seeing again.
“I will not have Mr Leighton's collection alluded to in this house!”