First Night

In general I very much like Jane Aiken Hodge's novels. They tend to be either modern or historical, with some excitement and suspense but no gore, and usually an underlying romance.

I was a bit disappointed by this one, however. It's set in Napoleon's time, with political intrigue threading through the plot, but the conversation seemed much too modern to be believable. Maybe I've been spoilt by Georgette Heyer, but I'm sure this author has written far more authentic historical novels. Perhaps this was an early one.

Still, once I got used to the anachronistic style of speech, it was an interesting book, introducing the fictional European country of Lissenberg, which features in at least one of her other books. The main character, Lady Christabel, makes her debut as a singer but gets into trouble as a result and is taken to the UK where her father keeps her hidden. Eventually she escapes with an American sponsor, and they travel through Europe while wars abound.

There's quite a bit of excitement, and the plot itself was well-planned, if complex, although I felt there were rather too many loose ends - such as suspicious people introduced, who were never really followed up. The characters, quite apart from not fitting into the historical context, were distinct but not really sympathetic, and the ending was rather contrived and sudden.

But I kept reading... it wasn't a BAD book, just disappointing when compared with others by this author.

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